Srinagar: Demonstrating the School Education Department’s apathy towards its portfolio as is in evidence in the state capital, more than half the schools in the education zones of Srinagar are without buildings of their own, data has revealed.
As many as 276 schools in these education zones, accounting for over 53 percent of the total number of schools in the city, are running from rented buildings, official figures accessed by Kashmir Reader reveal.
There are 519 schools including 30 higher secondary schools, 74 high schools, 211 middle schools and 204 primary schools in Srinagar, as per the figures.
Although all higher secondary schools in the state capital have their own building, as many as 150 primary schools, 105 middle schools and 21 high schools run from rented buildings, the figures say.
In terms of the number of schools running in rented buildings, Srinagar lags far behind the winter capital, Jammu.
As of the last financial year, Srinagar has thrice the number of primary and almost eight times the number of upper-primary schools running in rented buildings as compared to Jammu, official data said.
Against 472 government primary school buildings in Jammu, taken on rent, Kashmir had 1,575 rented primary school buildings.
The deficit in the number of upper-primary schools was even wider, with 882 rented buildings in Kashmir as compared to Jammu’s 110 rented upper primary schools.
Although the required “money is available” with the School Education Department, it has failed to acquire the land to build schools in Srinagar, a department insider said.
Asked whether the schools running on rent in Srinagar were concentrated in any particular areas of the summer capital, the official said that the shortage of space to build schools was “rampant everywhere”.
Over the acute shortage of infrastructure at government schools in the district, a top-rung official in the School Education Department posted in the downtown area of Srinagar said, “We have middle schools in the city running from two or even a single room. There certainly is a proble.”
The official also cited “non-availability of land” as the major reason why the majority of schools in the district were without their own buildings.
“Unlike city outskirts or rural areas where land is readily available, there is definitely a shortage of land, especially in the main city.”
Another top official in the department cited the “exorbitant land rates” in Srinagar as the reason why a majority of schools in the district were without buildings of their own.
An official in the Directorate of School Education Kashmir said that they had asked chief education officers across the Valley to ensure that before establishing any school, “it must have a land of its own”.