SHOPIAN: Two government-run middle schools in Meminder area of Shopian district are in the poor state as one school at Chanpora has only four students and a teacher while the other, a primary school in Meminder’s Sheikhnad locality, is running operations out of an unsafe building.
A teacher posted in Sheikhnad Primary School told Kashmir Reader that the building has developed multiple cracks in its walls and basement, but the authorities are unmoved, putting at risk the lives of 30 children, mostly girls, and their teachers.
A local resident told Kashmir Reader that most of the children studying in this school belong to the economically backward Monchi families and said that that is why the authorities are ignoring the school’s infrastructure. Villagers added that the tag of school is a curse on this school. “More parents want to admit their children in this school, but the lack of a building and infrastructure doesn’t let them do so,” one said.
“We brought the issue of this school’s building to the notice of several high-ranking officials, but nobody turned their eyes towards us,” said a teacher from the school, adding that there are only two rooms in the total school infrastructure and they too are unsafe. He added that they use the office for kitchen, library and laboratory purposes as well.
Villagers said that they are apprehensive about the lives of their children studying at this school. They said that the school’s kitchen room is also dysfunctional as ground water enters into it. “Most of the students in the school are girls, but despite tall claims by the government about development and the rights of girls, ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padao’ etc., all their promises turned into big lies,” says Bashir Ahmad, a local whose children are also studying in the said school.
According to official records, the school was established in 1991, but due to substandard material used in its construction, the building is now about to collapse. “There is nothing here but three unsafe rooms; the school has no playground but two roads passing besides it,” a local resident said.
A teacher deputed to the school said that some people living in the neighbourhood are affiliated with the animal bones and skin trade. They apparently used to keep their material near the school’s windows, creating a bad odour and causing teachers to become apprehensive about the students’ health. Furthermore, as a villager said, “The school’s surroundings are filled with dirt and waste, which in no way is near any other school in the state.”
At Chanpora, another government primary school has only four students studying with a single teacher to run all the school’s operations.
Villagers from Chanpora told Kashmir Reader that the school’s downfall was brought about by the Rehbar-e-Taleem teachers who were selected by the government but lack competence to teach. The villagers said that there used to be almost a hundred students studying in the school some years ago, but when parents saw their children not getting quality education, they shifted them to private schools.
A local resident who wished not to be named told Kashmir Reader that there is a private school in the village which has almost 200 students enrolled, but that is because teachers there provide quality education as compared to this government school. “Who would like to get costly education for children? The teachers do not teach sincerely, due to which nobody trusts government schools,” he said.
When this reporter visited the school at around 11:30 am, the single teacher deputed there was comfortably enjoying herself on a mattress, wrapped in a blanket. The students were playing and squabbling with each other.
Chief Education Officer, Shopian, Muhammed Sadiq Chichi told Kashmir Reader that nobody brought these issues in his notice. “Actually we have nowhere a single teacher for any school. I will seek an immediate report from the concerned zonal education officer about the status and infrastructure of these schools and after that the needful action will be done,” he said.