Gurez: Situated amid lush green meadows, a government primary school in the picturesque Gurez valley serves students and cattle under a common roof.
The school is in village Jurneel, home to about a thousand inhabitants. Built in the traditional style from wood logs and mud, the one-storey school has 14 students on its roll and two teachers.
The school building constructed in the year 2010 serves also as a cattle shed. Though there is no signboard to mark it as a school, ‘Primary School Jurneel’ is written with chalk in small letters on the front door. Passers-by, however, may think it to be an animal barn given the herd of goats roaming around and cows and cattle tied with hitches amid grass scattered around.
Inside, the school is partitioned into a single classroom, with one blackboard and a wood chimney for lighting fire. The other half of the building is a cattle shed. There is a small washroom made of tin outside for school children. According to locals, the school is in this state for the past eight years.
Given the remote location of the village, the authorities have left the children to God’s mercy. The locals claim to have travelled to Bandipora district headquarters, 120 kilometers away, to complain about the cattle shed in the school, but to no avail.
Given the low student count, the school should have been clubbed with another school that has proper infrastructure. The locals said that they were even willing to offer land for the construction of a new school building but the Chief Education Officer has paid no heed to their pleas.
The state of the school is such that locals prefer to keep their children at home than to send them for education.
The Chief Education Officer Bandipora, Munshi Javid, said that the school functioned from a rented building and he had taken notice of its condition. “The enrolment of students is very low in the primary school, so we will consider shifting it or identifying land for a new building. I will talk to the ZEO (zonal education officer) of Gurez and discuss with him what he deems best,” Javid told Kashmir Reader.