Budgam: From a distance, it looks like an abandoned, decrepit cattle shed, with big heaps of cow dung in the lawn and the surroundings. Ironically, the ramshackle building is a primary school, housing 55 students.
Located only a few minutes away from the Zonal Education Office (ZEO) Kunzer, the primary school Pethpora Harde-Aboora is functioning in a building that lacks every basic facility, including a boundary wall, a toilet and even portable water.
Besides this, the school is inundated with muck and cow dung slush throughout the year. Students here, who are between ages 4 to 10, sit on a heap of filth everyday to get education.
This reporter spoke to a number of parents and students who said that the school has been neglected by both the concerned officials and the politicians of the area.
Asif Ahmad, a local who spoke to Kashmir Reader, said, “There are a bunch of problems in this school: first, it accommodates over 50 students but has been constructed on the bank of a fast-flowing stream that washes even big buildings during the rainy season.
“Second, the school is along the road side. Although it was good to be near the road, but the school is without a boundary wall, which makes the students vulnerable to accidents,” Asif added.
Third, the school has no washroom, no toilet for its students and teachers. It is also under-staffed, having only two teachers for six classes, both of them female teachers.
“The government claims to have streamlined the education system, but their claims prove hollow slogans here,” added Showkat Ahmad, another local.
He further said that the whole system is politically motivated and that “that is why we are being deprived from the basic rights as well”.
The careers of our students are being ruined at the hands of the so-called officials, said shopkeeper Shabir Ahmad. “We apprised the concerned ZEO many times, but he never bothers to visit to the school,” he added.
“Not only this, students urinate in the open and the female teachers have to knock on our doors when they need to relieve themselves because the school has no facility for them to avail of,” he added.
“It is a shame on the part of the education department and the government that though they have constructed a school, they forgot to provide washroom, water and other facilities to it,” Shabir said.
Ali Mohammad, another local, complained of the “stench” of cow dung that he said had made the atmosphere unbearable.
The people have made a kind of wall-like structure around the school premises using the dung heaps, which has created the foul smell in the entire area.
A teacher wishing anonymity said that even though the school has apprised the concerned officials many times, they still seem to be least bothered.
“There has been no relief to the students and teachers from the stink arising due to the disposal of cow dung near the school located on the bank of Nallah Ferozpora,” students said.
“The people of the area used to dispose of cow dung in a vacant land located near the school. The dung heaps within no time became a breeding ground for mosquitoes in the summer, causing health problems among students and teachers as well,” a teacher said.
The unhygienic atmosphere has made the students vulnerable to many illnesses like fever, diarrohea and skin diseases.
This could have been prevented by constructing a protection wall around the lawn, but who cares here, a teacher lamented.
Besides this, the noise made by tractors and tippers that extract stones and sand from the nearby stream distracts and irritates the students to a large extent.
“We can’t focus on studies when a tipper or tractor is being loaded or crosses via the same road,” students complain.
Locals meanwhile requested the Governor to kindly intervene in the matter so that the problems would be redressed as soon as possible.
ZEO Kunzer Syed Bashir Ahmad said that the school was dysfunctional for some time and had been clubbed with another school.
“After the local delegation came a few times and requested for its detachment, it was again separated and made functional in its own building,” he said.
“We have sent the proposal to the Chief Education Officer (CEO) and are waiting for its approval,” Bashir said, adding that the toilet and washroom had got damaged and can’t be renovated within the low budget. “Hence we have apprised the CEO concerned and hope the funds will he approved,” he said.