Several gone defunct over years
SHOPIAN: Despite tall claims of revolutionising the education system made over the decades by different regimes, not one government school has its own building in the main town of southern Kashmir’s district Shopian.
As many as dozen schools were inaugurated in the town over the past eight decades, but none of them has any infrastructure of their own.
The time has arrived when only three schools are functional in the town, that too with a tiny roll of students, forced to study in insufficient and sub-standard rented accommodations.
Many residents whom Kashmir Reader talked to said that even after eight decades the government had failed to construct even a single school in the town, which according to them forces parents to send their wards either to private schools or to ones based in village areas. “Not everyone is able to send their children to private schools as they charge heavily for fees and other expenses, but the authorities are taking no notice and are putting the precious careers of our children in jeopardy,” said Manzoor Ahmad, a parent whose children are studying at Arhama Government School, situated some three kilometers from the district headquarters.
Officials posted in the district’s education offices said that there are only three government middle schools here. One is at Teng-Mohala, with around 30 students on roll and another school clubbed with it, functioning from a rented space on the second floor of a shopping complex, a kilometre from its original location. Insiders from the education department said that the location of the Teng Mohalla schools had been changed five times.
Educational experts and teachers blame the government for the education system’s deplorable condition in the district. “Why doesn’t the government shut down this education department?” questioned a Malik Mohalla resident. “For what purposes are they giving salaries to teachers and other staffers when all their schools are defunct?”
The government school at Malik-Mohalla and Baba-Mohalla has a dozen students who are either mentally unsound or handicapped. Officials said that leave alone the arrangement of playgrounds and washrooms, there isn’t space to construct a single class room.
Experts opine that the Education department in Shopian is paving the way for the destruction of government schools and they accuse the department of working to make private schools flourish.
“How can parents send their children to schools where they have no building as per school norms or playgrounds and washrooms?” Arshid Ahmad, a teacher, said.
Schools, which according to official records have gone defunct, are Boys’ Middle School, Shopian; Girls’ Primary School, Hergam, now at Chowgam; Girls’ Primary School, Shopian; Primary School, Hergam; Primary School, Bongam; Middle School, Sheikh Mohalla, Bongam; Primary School, Batpora; Primary School, Alyalpora, and Kannipora Primary School.
Majid Manzoor, a local, said irony has died a thousands deaths at seeing the claims of the education department. “The Education department has been handed over to rouges and self-styled educationists who are wholly and solely responsible for the devastating condition of the school education system in general but particularly in Shopian town. Whose district headquarters is Shopian when there are no schools in the town?” he laments. “Only two government higher secondary schools are functional in town, that too with outdated infrastructure. I don’t know whether there are any government schools in town or not.”
Another resident told Kashmir Reader that it is an irony that people residing in main town are forced to send their children to village schools.
“God forbid, these men on chairs deserve hell,” he said, adding that there are more than a dozen private schools with thousands of students on their rolls in the town.
Mushtaq Ahmad, another local, said that if there were any functional school in town he would send his children there.
“I am not able to bear the private school expenses of my three children, but the authorities as usual are ignoring the pleas of poor people,” he added.
Chief Education Officer (CEO), Shopian, Muhammad Sadiq told Kashmir Reader that there isn’t any open space in town where they can construct a school building.
“The parents themselves remove their children from government schools, and at places we were forced to club the schools after decline in student roll,” he said.
Sources from the Education Department said that a two Kanal space of land behind Old Bus Stand is lying vacant. They said that the space can be used for raising a big school where at least people from economically backward classes can admit their children. However, the CEO said that the space had been given to Government Girls’ Higher Secondary instead.