Budgam: Some vital electronic equipment worth thousands of rupees was stolen a couple of weeks back from the two-storey building of the Boys Middle School Budgam touching the main road and barely a few hundred metres away from the Chief Education Officer’s office of the district, a school teacher complained.
The school is understood to be a soft target as it is without a fencing wall even as being under the noose of the district administration.
At a random glance towards the school while walking on the main road, stray animals can be seen inside the institute premises making it look like more of a cow stall than an educational institution.
The middle school is not the only such in the central Kashmir district as 70 percent of the district schools are without boundary walls, informed Musadiq Hussain, Assistant Director Planning in the CEO Budgam’s office. Out of a total of 1,278 government-run schools in the district, Hussain told Kashmir Reader that that as many as 894 schools accounting for 69.95 percent schools were without a boundary wall. Depicting the School Education Department’s failure to set up adequate school buildings in the district, as many as 207 schools as per Hussain were running from rented buildings.
This is despite Rs 241.32 lakh and Rs 140.09 lakh respectively were approved for Budgam schools under district and state plans in the last 2017-18 financial as revealed by official documents accessed by Kashmir Reader.
Additionally, a whopping Rs 516.36 lakh and Rs 299.63 lakh were approved for the schools in the district run by RMSA and SSA respectively.
Hussain said that Rs 237.05 lakh and Rs 60 lakh under the district and state plan were approved “only for civil works”.
For an enrolment of 74, 283 students in the district schools, he said that there were 6,257 teachers (consisting of teachers, masters and lecturers) making the average teacher-pupil ratio 1:12 in the district.
Although the toilet facility was in place at almost all the schools in the district, Hussain said that there needed to be built more of them.
“Usually, we have one toilet at a school, but there need to be separate washrooms for boys and girls. The washrooms should be separate even for male and female teachers,” he said.
Hussain hoped that they would build more toilet facilities in schools “in collaboration with Swachh Bharat Mission”. While the School Education Department approved six schools in the district for upgradation, the infrastructure of schools ‘upgraded’ years ago in Budgam has not improved much.
Kashmir Reader reported in May this year how the infrastructure at the government run Girls Higher Secondary School Magam has ironically worsened after the institution was upgraded way back in the year 2004. Besides one of the school buildings being flood-hit, teachers at the school complain that during rainy season, rain water seeps directly into the library. Due to the space crunch, the school administration has on its own built a makeshift tin shed in the school premises, where the students as well as teachers have to face hardships especially during summer heat.
In order to do away with the dearth in school infrastructure, CEO Budgam, Ravouf Ahmad Shahmari told Kashmir Reader that they needed “massive funding”.
“As compared to a few years back, the financial requirement at our schools is very huge,” Shahmari said. Admitting to 70 percent of the district schools being without boundary walls, Shahmari however said that most of them were SSA-run schools, set up in “readily available buildings”.
Most of the 207 school buildings in the district running on rent too were SSA-run as per the CEO.