By Vijay Darda | 17-06-2019
How will the education for all be successful when thousands of schools have no sitting floor nor roof!
It feels good when the government announces that every child is entitled to education. The government also runs Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (Education for all) campaign for this purpose. However, when I see the plight of government schools, I am pained. The question arises in the mind as to who destroyed government schools? I and my brother Rajendra studied in a government school. Although the infrastructure was not good at that time, the teachers were fantastic. We have advanced through knowledge acquired from them. Now the infrastructure of government schools should be better because the government spends thousands of crores of rupees every year on education.
Keeping this in view, Lokmat Media Group surveyed government schools in Maharashtra and the findings were worrisome to say the least. A total of 13,228 classes of State government schools were forcibly closed as they were housed in dilapidated buildings. It is impossible to get these classes started in this academic session. These classes were closed because schools do not have floors to sit and there is no roof over their heads. Classrooms are a total mess. There is an abysmal lack of basic amenities like toilets, let alone hygienic condition. The roofs made from tin sheets have got broken or have been blown away. As the thatched school roofs have broken tiles, the students sitting inside such classrooms are in danger. As many as 3,087 and 2,526 classes are shut down in Vidarbha and Marathwada respectively. In the rest of Maharashtra, a total of 2,506 classes in Western Maharashtra, 2,037 in North Maharashtra and 553 classes in Konkan have been shut down.
While there are no classrooms, the students are stuffed in one room. Principals and teachers are forced to teach students in temple premises, village panchayat buildings or in open grounds! Shockingly, the disaster management department of the district lacks information about which classroom of which school is in a dilapidated condition. In such a situation, if there is an accident during the rainy season, it will be difficult for the department staff to reach there in time. Last year, 622 classrooms were demanded for holding classes in Nashik, but the money was not made available even for one room throughout the year! The fresh demand is for building 747 rooms.
This pathetic condition does not relate to Maharashtra alone but the story is the same everywhere in the country. The report of the Unified District Information System released by the National Educational Planning and Administration University says that between the years 2015-16 and 2016-17, nearly 60 lakh children left the government primary schools across the country. Last year’s figure has not come yet, but the figure of children dropping out of government schools is sure to go up!
So, the moot question is: Where is the money that the government which talks about spending thousands of crores on education goes after all? My comment may sound harsh, but it is entirely true that greedy people occupying the system are depriving children of their right to education. The amount received for the construction of classrooms is gobbled up. The money for purchase of school children’s uniforms is pocketed shamelessly. Even the nutritious food meant for children is eaten up and digested without any squeak of protest from any quarters. It is ironical that crores of rupees are given by the government in the name of education, but poor children studying in the Zilla Parishad schools are left yearning for the roof over their classrooms. Under such a sorry state of affairs, it can only be said that the government has destroyed its own schools. Ironically, instead of reforming its own school system, the government is making unnecessary interference in private schools. In my opinion there should be no restrictions on private schools.
The government should pay attention to how good government schools and hospitals can be! It is essential that the government schools provide excellent schooling because children of lower middle class and poor families study there. Having the best education is the right of these children. Education is the basis of progress. Many talented children are deprived of education. One does not know who among them would have the ability to become Nehru, Shastri, Sardar Patel, Satish Dhawan, Abdul Kalam or Narayan Murthy! I have always been saying that now the strongest way to improve government schools and hospitals is to make it mandatory for all government officials and wards of public representatives to send their children to study in government schools.
If this happens then the situation will begin to improve immediately. Recently, I read the news that the district collector of Katni Pankaj Jain has admitted his daughter in a government anganwadi. Then it was reported that Masrat Khanam Ayesha, collector of Vikarabad in Telangana, has enrolled her own daughter in the fifth class of a government school. These are shining examples. Obviously, when the children of the district collectors study in government schools, the situation is bound to improve there.
Just as the Modi’s government has done the best in the field of cleanliness campaign, there is the need to replicate the same in government schools and hospitals too. A time-bound programme should be started throughout the country. State and Central governments should come together and decide that the condition of schools and hospitals of the entire country will improve in the given time frame. If we could do that, it would be a great gift for the poor and the lower middle class families. Bear it in mind that it is only through education that the country will march ahead!
The government may be boasting about education for all but the tragic truth is that the condition of thousands of government schools is sordid. School buildings are rickety and dilapidated structures. How can you study there? The government does not care at all. The children of the financially well-off will study in private schools, but what should the children of the poor do?