SHOPIAN: In a shocking incident, a building of the government middle school at Largam has been bulldozed by miscreants after the school became dysfunctional a couple of years ago following a decline in student enrolment.
The building has been totally destroyed by the miscreants, confirmed sources from the area, who blamed the role played by village elders in instigating local youth to destroy the building as they want to change the school premises into an Eidgah.
Insiders from the state Education Department said that the school was upgraded in 2007-2008 with the aim of providing jobs for local Rehbar-e-Taleem (ReT) teachers. “Soon after the approval of jobs for some people, there was an abrupt drop in student roll, which fell from 47 to 17. The school was then soon declared dysfunctional, with locks being put on its doors,” said a local resident who wished not to be named.
The school is situated on a large ground, which can be used either for playing sports or for Eid prayers. “These people have destroyed this building because it was raised on a corner of a playground, but everyone can’t afford to send their children to private schools,” said another local resident who had wished to admit his children to the school.
The miscreants have even stolen the bricks and fallen windows of the building, without any care for the school at all.
Residents from neighbouring Habdipora village told Kashmir Reader that the school building was destroyed by village Largam residents. “The school was in our village’s name, but they might have thought that our village would grab their land, which lies besides the school building,” a Habdipora local said. Others added that there had been several quarrels between the villagers, first on the location of the building and then on the posts of the ReT teachers.
At another place in Lawahind village, several non-local families have grabbed the building of a government primary school and have been living in it since the last two years. The school, according to the villagers, was closed after a fall in student roll, but nobody had expected the non-locals who used to come to the Valley during summers to live in it. A local resident said that the non-locals had also put their sheep inside the school rooms and turned the school premises into a garbage dump.
Another village resident said that the newly built school building, constructed on the locals’ money, was decaying and the authorities were watching all this as mute spectators. “Why can’t the teachers inform the police or the district administration that these people were illegally living in this school building?” he asked. “They first took their government jobs and are now acting as messiahs for providing the school space to non-locals,” another local resident said.
Locals from the village said that people even stole water tanks from the school’s washrooms.
Chief Education Officer (CEO), Shopian, Muhammed Sadiq Chichi could not be reached for comment despite repeated calls to his phone.
When contacted, Deputy Commissioner, Shopian, Owais Ahmad said, “I am going to verify these issues through the CEO. If found true, strict action will be taken against the people involved in this crime,” he said.
Senior Superintendent of Police, Shopian, Sandeep Choudary told Kashmir Reader that he will look into the matter.
It is pertinent to mention here that more than 25 schools in Shopian had turned dysfunctional due to a decline in student roll and the buildings of many schools were either being used illegally by people or were at some places damaged by encroachers.
Education experts blame the ReT and Sarva Shikhsha Abhiyan schemes for the poor academic performance that led to the closure of many schools. “The government never took any action against the dull teachers and those who caused the decline of the student roll. Those people took advantage of schemes and got government jobs, but the situation on the ground is literally heart breaking,” an expert said, adding that most of the schools are dysfunctional with their teachers being top members or presidents of teachers’ forums like the ReT Forum.