Pending rent of one-room SSA schools threatens their closure

Pending rent of one-room SSA schools threatens their closure

By Insha Latief
Srinagar: The rent of some of the primary schools of Srinagar zone established under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan scheme has been withheld for past five years. The rent of the schools has been set as Rs 1000 and teachers and only one-room arrangement has been possible for these schools against the paltry amount.
Areeba, a teacher working in one of the schools said that the schools are a mockery of sorts. “For Rs 1000, we can get only one room. We don’t have playground for students or kitchen to cook meals or separate washroom. All activity is performed in a room and when you don’t get money to pay rent, things get worse,” she said.
According to teachers, higher authorities don’t release funds for rent well in time. They said that property owners complain every day even threatening to lock the school room.
Despite repeated requests from teachers, the delay in the release of the funds has become a norm. The standard answer to their pleas is that the authorities suggest merging the school with some nearby middle or high school.
The teachers say that several landlords threaten them to vacate their property.
“I had many times approached the elders of the locality and literally begged before the landlord. He called us crooks and told us worst things because he was not getting rent from years,” said Areeba.
Some teachers have even temporarily pacified the landlords by paying a part of rent from their own pockets.
Sajad, another teacher said that since his appointment he has never seen rent amount being paid to the landlord. “We ourselves get a princely salary of Rs 3,000. We can’t afford to pay the rent from our own pocket but still we do it sometimes to keep the pot boiling,” he said.
The authorities seem to be unaware of the situation at the ground. “The schoolteachers must come to me with their grievance so that I could know where the problem is and find a way out,” Director of Sarwa Shikssha Abhiyan, Saugath Biswas told Kashmir Reader.

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