PULWAMA: The School Education Department has failed to construct building of a primary school established nine years ago in remote village of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
Local residents from Banjren, a Gujjar habitation around 35 kilometres from the district headquarters in Pulwama, informed Kashmir Reader that the department had established a primary school in their village in 2009.
“During the initial phase, Government Primary School Banjren was accommodated in a rented building, but since July 2009, it has operated from a dilapidated building without any ventilation,” said Javid Ahmad , a local from the area, adding that villagers from Banjren have pleaded before the authorities to construct a building for the school, but their repeated requests have gone unheard.
Ahmad said that the rented building started collapsing in 2011, after which the School Education Department authorities approved the construction of two additional class rooms (ACR) for the school, but the structure has not been raised till date.
Another resident, Sheeraz Ahmad, said that the contract for the ACR construction was given to a local contractor, Riyaz Ahmad, but he refused to start construction as he saw the contract as being less profit-making for himself. As a result, Sheeraz said, he handed over the contract to another contractor, Zubair Ahmad, who after construction of the plinth, also refused to work on the project, fearing loss.
The villagers added that after the great deluge of 2014, the walls of the rented building from which the primary school was operating started falling apart and the villagers opted to keep their children at home.
They said that with the passage of time, the authorities, fearing causalities caused by the ramshackle structure, clubbed this primary school with another situated five kilometres away in Pathri village. This brought about immense problems to the school students, who, the villagers said, are exhausted on arrival at the other school. This, in turn, has serious consequences for their studies and affects their precious careers.
The villagers said the clubbing of primary school Banjren proved counter-productive as the student enrolment declined from 70 to 16 between 2015 and 2018. They added that the area is being neglected because its inhabitants are extremely economically backward.
“Most students discharged themselves from the government school to get enrolled in nearby private schools,” teachers at the school said, adding that travelling the five-kilometre long distance by dirt paths is troublesome for primary school kids. He also said that everyone is not able to pay the fees and other charges in private schools.
The villagers added that in 2015 a new primary school was constructed in Banjren habitation for students of Poswal Mohalla.
“We request the authorities of the School Education Department to either started construction on Primary School Banjren, which is pending since 2011, or club it with Primary School Poswal Mohalla, which will save our children from travelling five kilometres up-hill,” the villagers said.
The Chief Education Officer for Pulwama, Mushtaq Ahmad Salroo, said that construction on Primary School Banjren was stopped because it was being built in a landslide-prone area.
He said that they would consider clubbing the Banjren and Poswal Mohalla primary schools.