After three-month winter break, snow prevents hundreds of Budgam schools from reopening

After three-month winter break, snow prevents hundreds of Budgam schools from reopening
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Going to school impossible without carrying Kangris; authorities blamed for laxity

BUDGAM: Despite claiming to have developed the infrastructure in government-run schools, the authorities have failed miserably in clearing the snow from hundreds of school premises in the remote areas of Central Kashmir’s Budgam district.
Reports reaching Kashmir Reader suggest that hundreds of government-run schools are still submerged under mounds of snow in the rural areas of Budgam.
Hundreds of schools that fall in the education zones of Khag, Hardepanzu, Khansahab, Pakherpora, Chrar-e-Sharief and others are covered under five to eight feet of snow. High School Sitaharan in Education Zone Khag, for instance, is situated in the foothills of Tosamaidan, a snow-prone area. The school premises have accumulated almost eight feet of snow that has even covered entry points to the classrooms.
“Schools re-opened after a gap of three months, but the authorities have left this school unattended and have not made any effort to clear the snow from its premises till date,” a teacher, wishing anonymity, told Kashmir Reader. “Entering the classrooms is even more difficult as the snow has blocked the entrances.”
Similarly, Government High School Gogaldara and the government middle schools at Shoplian and Nowgam are badly stuck under immense mounds of snow. All these schools are situated in a tribal area which remains cut off from other regions for a comparatively longer time.
A local resident of Gogaldara, Imtiyaz Ahmad Lone, said, “Ours is an area of the neglected and the downtrodden where officials hardly bother to visit.”
He added that the sorry state of affairs is such that “our students who visit school take Kangris with them, otherwise going to school is not possible in the present situation”.
A student, Danish Bashir, said that visiting schools in such circumstances is a daunting task. “The government should either clear the school premises and make them snow free or they should close the schools till they get cleared,” he lamented.
Another student, Hilal Bhat from Khansahab area of Budgam, said that the fresh snowfall combined with several feet of already accumulated snow has created a lot of problems for the students and their teachers. “The tough circumstances have forced most of the students to stay home,” Bhat said.
He added that the authorities are at one end busy in observing welcome day for the reopening of schools but have forgotten the schools in hard-to-reach areas like Khansahab, Mujpathti, Gurwait, Hardepanzu, Kharian, Zoogu-Kharian, Khag, Habber, Drang, Shoplian, Nowgam and many other such places.
A senior teacher, Aijaz Ahmad, while talking to Kashmir Reader blamed the authorities for their callous approach towards the Education Department.
“The students have already lost 106 days of academic session 2019-20,” he said, adding that having the election season at its apex is expected to hamper schooling across the region. “This can ruin the careers of thousands of students living in upper reaches of Budgam,” he said.
He added that this is no less than a disaster and urged parents, concerned authorities and the teaching fraternity to join hands to overcome the situation.
“We must arrange heating systems in schools rather than closing them again,” he added.
Meanwhike, students also demanded that the concerned authorities should make necessary arrangements for snow clearance and must fix heating systems in classrooms to avoid continued difficulties.
Chief Education Officer Budgam Fatima Banoo was busy in a meeting when contacted. “I am busy in a meeting. I will call you later,” Banoo said.
However, when repeated attempts were made to contact her after a few hours, she did not respond to calls from this reporter till this report was filed.