SHOPIAN: The Government Primary School at Chana-Check is a school that runs with only the open sky for its ceiling. Situated in Drabgam hamlet of South Kashmir’s Pulwama district, the school has been without a building for years while teachers carry on the daily class work under whatever weather conditions there may be.
People from the village said that despite repeated requests to the concerned authorities, no building was ever constructed for the school. Local resident Muhammad Yousuf said that their children face immense problems in their studies due to the lack of a school building.
Another primary school building at Kanikoot in the same hamlet has the same problem since its building was damaged by the 2014 floods and was later declared unsafe by the authorities.
Locals from the village said that the authorities, including the Chief Education Officer and the Zonal Education Officer, made several visits to the school, but no funds for the building’s reconstruction were released.
Muhammad Shafi Sheikh, who heads both villages as Numberdar, told Kashmir Reader that the officials had declared the building unsafe but hadn’t come up with any alternative. “The damaged building has left the lives of our children at absolute risk as there were multiple cracks in its walls,” he said.
On Chana-Check school, the Numberdar said that they had requested the authorities to take action on this issue at several occasions, but no building had been constructed by the government.” Our children there too study under open sky and leave school in rains in inclement weather,” he said while demanding construction of both the school buildings so that the children’s education could smoothly continue.
Headmistress of Chana-Check Primary School Shaheena Akhter told Kashmir Reader that previously the school ran from a rented building but over time people refused to provide accommodation for it. Currently they only have a washroom and kitchen as school infrastructure. “During the rains or in inclement weather, we have no option but to ask students to go home as there is not even a shed with a tin roof for them to shelter under,” she said, adding that the lack of a building has also resulted in a decline in the number of students enrolled. This, according to her, now stands at 30 students enrolled, whereas there had been more than 45 in the past.
The Headmaster of Government Primary School, Kanikoot locality, Khursheed Ahmad said that working in the building leaves them feeling scared daily as there were several cracks on its walls. “We have requested the authorities several times about the issue, but till date we are waiting for their reply,” he said.
Zonal Education Officer Nazir Ahmad said that they have written about the approval of funds for the Primary School Chana-Check but as of now no funds were released. “The building of Kanikoot school is not unsafe, but there is need for repairs which will be done soon,” he said, while adding that only those buildings are unsafe which were declared unsafe by the Roads and Buildings Department.
Deputy Commissioner Pulwama Ghulam Muhammad Dar and Chief Education Officer Pulwama Mushtaq Ahmad Salroo couldn’t be reached for their comments.