Srinagar: On the first day of reopening of schools on March 1 after months of closure, when children happily went to their classrooms to meet and greet their friends, inside Eidgah locality of Srinagar city, most of the students studying in government schools stayed home. Courtesy: the shabby condition of their schools after 2014 floods.
After eight months of closure due to 2016 uprising and winter vacation, all schools in the Kashmir valley reopened on March 1. The reopening brought cheers and smiles on the faces of the children, particularly in students of private schools, as they would meet their friends, teachers and resume their plans for career and future.
But there were no smiles on the faces of children of government schools in Srinagars Eidgah. Of the around 400 students enrolled in government schools in Kreshbal, Chocun Faker, Sangam, Danmar, Badiwadder areas in Eidgah assembly segment, about 30 students attended the first day.
Parents of the students said that their wards refused to go to schools because of their untidy and damaged condition after the September 2014 floods.
I insisted my children to go to school today, but they refused. They said their classrooms are untidy and the school looks like a stable, Mehraj-u-Din, a parent said. We wont go there till it is not repaired or painted, he quoted his kids telling him.
The condition of the schools buildings and their premises is quite bad, he said. He said some parents too visited the schools and the complaints of their wards were founds true.
We dont want to go to these schools. They are not clean. We feel bad there. Our schools premises is waterlogged; we cant play in it, Wahid Ahmad, a student said.
The government school buildings in Jammu and Kashmir continue to be in dismal state, lacking basic facilities for students, absence of laboratories and other required infrastructure.
As per figures of the School Education Department, a total of 32,554 schools are without basic facilities like toilets, drinking water, own building, compound walling, laboratory, library and playground.
A total of 232 schools-228 in Jammu and 4 in Kashmir dont have toilet facility while as 2817 schools-2509 in Jammu and 308 in Kashmir valley are lacking drinking water facility. Similarly, a total of 3427 schools1052 in Jammu and 2375 in Kashmir are without own buildings. Moreover, 11562 schools7835 in Jammu and 3727 in Kashmir are without compound walling.
The figures further indicate that 470 schools-272 in Jammu and 198 in Kashmir valley dont have laboratories while as 2014 schools-762 in Jammu and 1252 in Kashmir are without libraries. Similarly, 12032 schools5005 in Jammu and 7027 in Kashmir are without play grounds.
245 schools-105 in Jammu and 140 in Kashmir dont have Principal/ Head-master. Similarly, 2754 schools-1257 in Jammu and 1497 in Kashmir are without subject teachers.
Because of the lack of basic facilities, parents find no reason to admit their children in government-run schools. Also, the children do not find these schools worth going.
Lakhs of children go to these schools, but it is because of the economic reasons that their parents admit them there. Children of labourers and farmers admit their wards in the government schools.
Owing to these basic facilities, the enrollment and drop out of students in these schools is in a significant number. As per the official figures, in March 2015, 146 government-run schools had zero enrollment and more than 3000 schools with enrollment of less than 15. Moreover, 683 schools476 in Jammu and 207 in Kashmir valley recorded less than 30% result.
In Eidgah, local residents and a political leader have raised the issue of dismal condition of schools with the officials of the education department.
Congress leader from Eidgah Imtiyaz Khan said that when the schools were reopened, he visited many of the government-run schools of Eidgah constituency.
I found the schools in a very bad condition. I clicked the pictures and sent them to the Director School Education, Kashmir, Khan said.
He added that after floods in September 2014, the government has not renovated the schools in the Srinagar city. The government should come up with an immediate reconstruction and renovation plan to face-lift the schools.
Khan said that the MLA of Eidgah, Mubarak Gul of National Conference, has forgotten to think about renovation of the schools buildings and providing infrastructure to them.
When the locals took up the matter with education officials concerned, they got angry response and official alibis. Some officials in the education department told them that funds were allotted for the school renovation and repair. Others told them that department has no funds for repairing schools.
The Jammu and Kashmir government had envisaged to repair and renovate schools buildings and infrastructure in the state under TAMEIR Plan of Rs 80,000 crore plus economic package that was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Srinagar on November 7 in 2015 for various development projects and flood relief.
However, the government schools in the state are yet to see the funds under TAMIER plan. (KNS)
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.