Sunday, June 1, 2008

Schooling woes in the Indian capital

We thank the government for all its efforts at providing the nation’s children with opportunities and the infrastructure for education. However we would like to take this report a step further, by asking a question. Is this enough; or is it essential to justify this provision and the resources spent by continual follow up and ensuring the compliance of services?

The ground reality is right here. A recent visit to an MCD school in New Seemapuri, Shahadra North zone, revealed a heart rending truth. We entered the school expecting to see our country’s future hard at work, battling their innocent wits with the formidable magnitude of knowledge set to be achieved.

But what we actually saw was far from it. At a modest budget of Rs 1.1 crores, a new building was set up in 2007-08. This building was complete with its many classrooms, toilets for students, provision for drinking water and even a table tennis room. While the infrastructure for these facilities exists, none of them are available to the students.

No toilets, no water
The only existing toilet for the students is always locked, leaving students with no choice except to relieve themselves in the unlikeliest of places. The very classrooms for study, the temples of knowledge, have turned into lavatories.

The marks on the wall and pools of urine on the floor are a ghastly reality check of the inconvenience faced by the little children.

In the hottest of summer days, the children have no way to quench their thirst since drinking water is not accessible. Due to the fear of taps being stolen, the staff has permanently sealed the room with the provision of drinking water.

Not only the taps are removed; wooden planks have been inserted to completely do away with the water supply.

As a result, any child who requires water has to go home to satiate his need, which only serves to suit the teacher, as no child usually returns to school once he has gone home.

Lack of teachers’ interest
During school hours, we were greeted by children in the play ground. This gathering of students outside the classes was a result of teachers’ absence during regular class periods. The dearth of teachers results in hardly any scheduled classes.

The school has 25 classrooms with a minimum of 70-80 students in each class (around 1,800 children study in the school). The number of teachers is merely 13–14.

The teachers seemed to give more importance to amassing knowledge themselves, and were found preparing for courses they have enrolled for or reading other entertainment material.

When questioned, they said that they had lost interest in teaching as the number of children per class is too much for them to indulge in any effective knowledge sharing.

Illegal activities

The old building that exists is being judiciously used by miscreants, who can slip in and out of the school complex unnoticed and unchecked. Using the vacant classrooms as their base, they indulge in gambling, drugs, tobacco and alcohol abuse, which children of the school, at their tender age, should not be exposed to.

One can see groups of people – some students as well – huddled and engrossed in a game of cards, underage smoking and drug abuse.

Just about a month ago, a dead body was discovered in the toilet block of this old building. The death was attributed to consumption of smack. Such instances further add to the grim environment at the school. Some parts of the building have been demolished since then, but are still home to such activities.

Not safe
The new building sure seems to offer a better environment for education as compared to the old one. But the inside walls tell a different story. The unhygienic conditions created by the helpless students urinating in the classrooms are a sure source of diseases.

Naked wires hanging along the stairs and protruding through the walls are a hazard in themselves. There is a high probability of unsuspecting students getting electrocuted by touching the wires.

If the absence of safety, law, order, discipline and education on the whole wasn’t enough, the headmaster has been adding to the woes of expectant parents by refusing admission to their wards.

The headmaster of the school retired on April 30, 2008. Since his retirement was on the anvil, he refused to grant admissions to students for the new term and has deferred all cases. This claim is supported by the fact that not a single student has been admitted to classes II to V since the beginning of the term.

This is a report by Delhi based NGO Pardarshita.
For more information, contact:
PARDARSHITA D-132,11nd floor New Seemapuri Delhi-110095
Ph: 01122356476, 9899358835
Email: pardarshita_india@yahoo.com

Source: http://southasia.oneworld.net/article/view/160753/1/


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

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