Bandipora: The glaringly poor infrastructure of Kashmir’s government schools has yet another instance at a government-run high school in Banakoot village of North Kashmir’s Bandipora district, only a few kilometres from the district headquarters.
Due to space constraints, a classroom of this school operates from a dark and tiny room filled with kitchen utensils and the junk of storage lockers. Students of Class 6 receive their education here; the room does not even have space for a white or black board to give it at least the appearance of a classroom. According to the school administration, the cramped space is in fact a kitchen.
The school’s over-400 students are facing a lot of inconveniences due to its lack of space. “The school was upgraded in 2005 from middle to high school, though the staff strength here is that of a middle school and the infrastructure has remained unchanged,” employees at the school shared.
A two-room building in one corner of the school ground is still incomplete yet, incredibly, accomodates two classrooms of the 9th and 10th standards. According to the Banakoot village head, “Its construction was started around five years ago but was stopped due to unknown reasons, without even completing the finishing work.” Apparently the structure having no doors or windows, and hence being open and unsafe, is still to be “handed over” to the school by the Roads and Buildings Department and yet today classes are held here in full swing.
A 10th standard girl student from the school, Insha Asad, decried the lack of space, playgrounds and washrooms in the school. ” The school with its single-storey building has no playground space for extracurricular activities or even for prayers. It gives a lot of inconvenience to us students.
“The classrooms can only accommodate upto 10 students but are accommodating 60 to 80 students each.” To add to this, “the admission process is still going on”, said staff members.
Insha corroborated the claims of the villagers about one building of the school being incomplete, saying, “We are studying in an unsafe and unfinished building; I don’t know why it has been left as it is for all the years that I have studied here.”
“They say ladies first,” Insha quipped, “but here we have to stay huddled to find a safe passage during games and offdoor time, all due to the little and unsafe space available to us.”
Another student, Mafina Shabaan from Class Six, the class held in the kitchen, told Kashmir Reader that there was also no electricity in the school for the computer lab. “We have to face a lot of problems here as there are no facilities and, as you can see, there is no space for students. We study in the school kitchen; apart from that, the school has no electricity to run the computer in the lab.”
Students also complained of there being no water or even functional washrooms available at the school.
“There are several washrooms in the school but they are incomplete and useless and have no water. There are also no separate washrooms for girl students, which is a shame,” Insha said, seconded by other students.
Apart from the lacking infrastructure that has provided for only seven classrooms, the school’s staff crunch is another burden which both the students and the teachers have to carry.
“The staff strength of this high school is that of the middle school, with only three masters and eight teachers,” said the students, while the required staff strength a the high school, according to officials, should be seven masters and twelve teachers, besides other staff members.