Anantnag: It has been 55 years now that the Government Middle School here in Takibal area of Bijbehara in Anantnag district has been functioning from a cramped, rented two-room accommodation, despite the fact that land for a new school building was identified 6 years ago.
The school has no water supply, no washroom, no playground or any other basic facility, even as the roll has gone up to 70 now and the number of teachers to 7, three of them female teachers.
Located in the middle of Takibal village, the school was established in 1966 as a primary school. It was upgraded to a middle school in 2008. While the school received an upgrade, the accommodation remained the same.
“A small two-room hut was rented for the school in 1966 and the school has been running in the same place since. It may have been a great place years ago but now it is dilapidated, has never been renovated, and the roll of the students has substantially increased,” Muhammad Ramzan, a local, told Kashmir Reader.
In 2015, the locals and some teachers of the school took the matter to higher-ups in the department. Subsequently, the district administration was asked to look into the matter.
The then Deputy Commissioner (DC), Bashir Ahmad Khan, instructed the local administration to submit a report. “The report was submitted by the Tehsildar and later on, with the help of villagers, 1.7 kanals of state land nearby was identified for a new school building,” a teacher at the school, who has been following the developments, told Kashmir Reader, adding, “The present Director Education, Younis Malik, was the ADC then in Anantnag and it was all done under his supervision.”
The process was initiated and the school authorities were asked to get NOCs from different departments, including the local Auqaf. The list of places they needed to get an NOC from included the Public Health Engineering (PHE) office, Bijbehara.
“Because the land is located in the compound of the Kir-Kadal Lift Irrigation Scheme, we were asked to get the nod of PHE officials,” the teacher said.
While all other NOCs were secured, the NOC from the PHE department never came. An official in the department, with political clout, is said to have opposed the proposal.
“He used his clout, and because of it, the proposal to make the lives of students better has remained on halt for six years now. I don’t understand why politics is being played over the education of our children,” another teacher at the school said.
The teacher said that the female students and female teachers have to go to their homes to use restrooms, for there is no facility at the school. “The kids often fall sick because the building is now filled with rodents and dust mites. What kind of person will oppose a better place for little children’s education?” the teacher said.
The teachers at the school have recently visited some higher officials again and have been asked to get the NOCs afresh, and this time as well, the NOC from the PHE department is yet to come.
Kashmir Reader talked to the Executive Engineer of the PHE department in Bijbehara, Muhammad Haneef, who assured that he will look into the matter.
“I will get back to you after I inquire about this whole issue,” he said. He was yet to get back when this story was filed.
This reporter also tried to talk to Director School Education, Muhammad Younis Malik, but he did not attend repeated calls made to his phone number.