SRINAGAR: Authorities in J&K have failed to make the hundred odd residential schools for downtrodden girl children relevant, as roughly 40 percent seats at the schools are still vacant while more than 30 percent of the schools are still non-residential.
The majority of the schools are yet to have their own buildings, despite having been sanctioned eight years ago, and are being run from rented structures, say officials.
Known as Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas (KGBVs), the schools, 99 of them in total, are supposed to impart quality upper primary education exclusively to girls of the Educationally Backward Blocks. The KGBVs were sanctioned for the state in 2009, under the erstwhile Sarva Shiksa Abhiyan (SSA) scheme.
As per the minutes of this year’s Project Approval Board (PAB) meeting of the J&K Samagra Shiksha (a merger of the erstwhile SSA, Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan and Teacher Education), “2,427 seats for girl students are lying vacant in 97 KGBVs” that are operational in the state.
An official from Samagra Shiksha, J&K, confirmed the number revealed by the PAB minutes.
Against the capacity at the KGBVs to enroll around 6,600 girls, the official said that only over 4,000 of them were enrolled.
As many as 32 KGBVs which are meant to be residential are instead “non-residential due to insufficient infrastructure”, the official informed.
Of the 99 KGBVs, 54 are still running from rented buildings, he said.
Two KGBVs, one in Kishtwar and the other in Kharoo, Leh, were still non-functional, he added.
An official at Samagra Shiksha attributed the lower enrollment of girls at the residential schools to “security reasons”.
“Parents do not send their girls to these schools as they are residential. Also, they are away from the habitation, so lesser number of girls get enrolled,” he said.
He said that there was also a shortage of staff at the schools.
Another official said, “Most of the schools in the valley do not have boundary walls, so nobody would want to keep their daughters in such type of schools. That is why the schools are not residential here.”
An official told Kashmir Reader that once the union Ministry for Human Resource Development (MHRD) sanctioned the schools in 2009, the state government consistently failed to identify land for the majority of the proposed school buildings, as a result of which most of the schools were running from rented buildings.
“In the meantime, there was an escalation in the cost of building the schools,” he added.
Last year, the MHRD had asked the state to “create an awareness programme by involving representatives from local authority and community at large and to see to it that maximum seats are filled by the end of June, 2017”.