By Ishfaq Reshi
Brannar Kunzer: Students of six classes at the government Primary School in Brannar sit huddled in the shed of a rented kitchen. The building of the school was damaged due to landslide in 2015. Since then, the kitchen shed converted into a classroom is where the school functions from.
The primary school is located in Brannar Gulabdaji area which falls under the Kunzer zone of the education department. A teacher, requesting anonymity, told Kashmir Reader that after a landslide damaged the school building in 2015, the education department ordered that the school be shifted to a kitchen shed nearby. “We have to teach students from KG to Class 5 in this cramped space. The number of students enrolled at the school has declined due to the space crunch,” the teacher said.
A Class 5 student said, “We have no space here. Nobody cares for us. We are not able to concentrate on our studies.”
Another student said, “We are facing a lot of problems due to lack of space. Studying in a cramped condition is affecting our education badly.”
Teachers of the school submitted an application to the Zonal Education Officer (ZEO) in 2015 asking to be shifted to a place with proper accommodation. The government has done nothing so far.
Village committee members expressed concern over the lack of accommodation in the school and alleged that despite bringing the problem many times to the notice of higher officials, they have paid no attention.
“The three teachers working in the school are hardworking and dedicated. But the school is operating from a shabby room. The old school building which has developed cracks and is unsafe for our children has not been repaired. We have brought this matter to the notice of the Zonal Education Officer a number of times, but so far nothing has been done,” villagers said.
While visiting the school, Kashmir Reader saw that the damaged old building is unsafe and the rented kitchen shed is both unhygienic and poorly maintained. Its windows are cracked, floor and roof are in shabby condition, and the floor matting is completely damaged. There is also no toilet facility, no washroom, no medical aid, and no playground for the students.
Zonal Education Officer (ZEO) Kunzer Fareed Ajaz admitted that the school is operating from a kitchen room. He said that he has written to higher officials many times about the problem.
“The school building was damaged due to landslide and so we shifted the students to a nearby rented hall (the kitchen shed) as a precautionary measure. The school premises need a boundary wall, which we have not been able to provide as yet. I assure that it will be done in the coming days,” he said.
“I have already written to senior officials apprising them of the condition of the damaged building. We are hoping that the government will take steps to ensure the safety of the children,” Ajaz said.