With no building, Budgam primary school runs six classes

With no building, Budgam primary school runs six classes

BUDGAM: The Government Primary School Miripora here in central Kashmir’s Budgam district is running out of three small rooms of a decrepit rented accommodation with approximately 115 students on its rolls.
Six classes are taught in these three rooms. The students frequently find themselves unable to focus on the teachers’ lectures as they study in classrooms where as many as two other classes are simultaneously being taught.
A third-grader, Usman, complained that it is difficult to comprehend what his teacher is saying. “I can’t concentrate on studies and mostly get distracted by the other classes’ lectures,” he says.
“It is unfair the way we are sandwiched between the irrepressible students from senior classes,” Usman said. “In spite of attending school regularly, I feel I am unable to retain what is being taught by my teachers.”
It is easy for even a layman to understand Usman’s frustration. The scene at the school is quite disturbing and, at first glance, the school seems like a busy bazar. Like vendors trying to attract buyers, teachers speak simultaneously, trying to hold their students’ attention.
With approximately 115 students on roll for the six classes, the small school campus barely has any space to walk. Even basic facilities are missing: there is no drinking water, no furniture for the students, no electricity or fans.
Crammed into the campus kitchen are the head teacher’s makeshift office and a workspace for the staff. But the sorry state of affairs is such that there is no space to accommodate any chairs.
Outdoors, at the edge of an open space, a class is being conducted under the scorching sun.
“If it is not a rainy or unusually warm day, we prefer it to the indoor classes,” says a second class student. “It gets very humid and noisy inside, so we enjoy lectures outdoors.”
The perceptive students know that they would be more comfortable at a private school, but their parents cannot afford to send them to one.
Established in 2005, this school is one of the few small schools that are still without their own accommodation despite having an abundance of funds for its construction.
Ghulam Mohammed Mir, a local, said, “The school is a blessing in this socio-economically deprived area. Our village is located 15 kilometres away from the Zonal Education Office, but the irony is that the concerned department has never bothered to visit the school.”
For him, it is the students’ and teachers’ passion for education that keeps the school running.
“It was my dream to teach underprivileged students from my area,” said a teacher posted at the school.
He added that the school has been bearing the brunt of the officials’ neglct for more than a decade now. “We are crammed into a small space where it is not possible to teach properly,” he laments.
Although the students, he said, are thirsty for knowledge, but the infrastructure is not conducive for quality education. “We have three rooms and have constructed a makeshift tin shed from our own pockets besides, to accommodate the students. But on days it rains, we have to club them all with other classes.”
Asserting the students’ own capabilities, he said, “I am damn sure that if they get proper attention, they can become highly educated and valuable students.”
He added that funds were allotted earlier by the authorities for the construction of school buildings but they were not sufficient and therefore got lapsed with the passage of time.
“The officials of the Educational Department occasionally visit the school and make promises about addressing the space issues. But these claims are never followed by action,” he said.
The school has raised demands for its own accommodation, more classrooms and other educational facilities. But these requests seem to fall on deaf ears. The “discouraged” educationists question the successive governments’ claims of streamlining the education sector.
The students’ parents are ready to fight for their children’s education. Parents told Kashmir Reader, “We have approached the higher authorities and the elected representatives, urging them look into the matter”.
Zonal Education Officer Fareed Ahmad Lone, when contacted, admitted that the school is functioning in a decrepit, rented accommodation.
“I am aware of the situation there. The department had sanctioned a building for them earlier, however the land was not available there, which resulted in the lapse of funds,” he said.
He added, “I will visit the school in next one or two days and hope their long-pending issues would be solved on a priority basis.”