Bandipora: The situation of government schools, especially after this winter and the long closure last year, is not looking good in Kashmir. After reports came of a school in Shuplian village of Budgam that was teaching students of eight classes in one room of a falling, dilapidated building, here is this government middle school located within a kilometre’s distance from the district administration office as well as the zonal office in Bandipora.
The locals have started taking their kids out of the school because of the mucky waters that surround it from all sides, with which all the children come into contact daily, and because of the ‘space crunch’ in the school due to which classes are often held under the open sky and a small drizzle triggers a holiday. Despite having one of the “highest enrollments”, as the teachers claim, two-hundred students have only three classrooms to sit in.
“Let us not talk of education. Children are at risk. They may catch some disease in these dirty surroundings,” Abdul Majid, a local, said. He added, “I have enrolled my daughter in another school as this school is a shame, first for us and then for the authorities.”
The teachers at the school confessed, “We have put together three classes in one classroom and all the time I feel frustrated about how to teach them. It is a chaos,” shared the teacher.
Forget about washrooms and safe drinking water, the children here quench their thirst from a tap planted in the grotesque surroundings.
The school with five female and one male staff does not even have an office. A few chairs on the veranda serve as one. The school building, located on the roadside, is without any fencing. The recent transfers of three teachers out of here have raised more concerns, the teachers shared.
Children as young as 6 years are either seen spending their time playing in the murky waters or on the road, as there is no classroom or playground to accommodate them. The school land belongs to the (AMT) Nursing College, which has already constructed one building there and work on another is in progress. The construction is perhaps the most serious threat to the children’s health.
The insensitive view taken by the administration is what locals rue of. Land was acquired and a building for a new school was constructed years ago on a stream nearby, but the building was never completed. The useless structure now lies in shambles, and has become “a hub for drunkards and illegal card players” say locals. The September 2014 floods added to the damage but since then, nothing has been done to renovate the building. Instead, another set of buildings at the same place was constructed and it, too, remains unfinished.
The administration gives the excuse of it being a tussle among the local contractors. The locals demand an enquiry in the matter, alleging, “It is just to mint money that contractors are in nexus with the department.”
When Kashmir Reader spoke about this matter with the newly appointed Chief Education Officer of Bandipora, Mohd Shafi War, he said that he was not aware of the situation. After looking into the details about the school and the fund allotted to it, he revealed that the school has sought an additional two more rooms for the present school building.