The J&K government has failed to utilize the school buildings which have been left abandoned from past more than two years post rationalization of schools by the school education department.
As per the official figures, over 800 school buildings were left abandoned in education department following the merger of educational institutions- an exercise initiated by JK government in 2015 to streamline the pupil teacher ratio in government schools.
“Post rationalization, the buildings have been left abandoned. There is no watch and ward on these buildings since past two years,” the official said.
The officials said no class work in these buildings or any other school related happenings takes place, therefore the empty structures have become a cause of worry for the department.
“We have no reports of safety of these buildings, neither the department has initiated any process to get these buildings utilized properly,” an official said.
They said the buildings were spared after the department initiated rationalization of schools in Kashmir. “No class work or any other school related happenings take place in these buildings. So these empty structures are vulnerable to attacks and cause loses for the department,” the officials said.
Interestingly, the school education department has merged around 2406 schools under the rationalization process in the Valley over the past two years including 1834 schools which were operating from rented accommodations. Also, merger of these schools gave a huge surplus staff of 3553 teachers which were later posted in teacher deficient schools.
Post rationalization, the school education department had decided to start kindergarten classes in the buildings for which the concerned Chief Education Officers (CEOs) were notified to make arrangement of teachers as well.
“This initiative was taken during the tenure of the then director Shah Faesal and kindergarten classes were started in some buildings as well. But most of the buildings are still abandoned,” said one of the CEOs wishing not to be named.
He said the department had also decided to shift Zonal Education Offices (ZEO) operating from rented accommodations to these spared school buildings but the idea didn’t materialize later.
“Later it was decided to provide the accommodation to JK Board of School Education to shift their rented offices to these buildings but there was no breakthrough for some reasons,” CEO said.
Interestingly, the school education department also proposed to handover the abandoned school buildings to social welfare department to run ICDS centres but the buildings are yet to be taken over officially by social welfare department.
Director School education Kashmir (DSEK) G N Itoo said the school education department has already approved handing over of 500 out of 800 abandoned school buildings to social welfare department in order to put these structures to proper use.
“The decision was taken on March 31 this year and the social welfare department had to do some renovation to make these buildings usable but they are yet to do that,” he said.