BHOPAL:State school education minister doesn’t tire of announcing that Madhya Pradesh has “100% compliance in flag hoisting”. Perhaps, the next time he could try reading out data for how many schools run in the open and how many schools have benches, let alone electricity.
A government school in Morena runs out of a shanty made of dry grass. It’s been like this since 2013. During school hours, you can hear kids chanting tables on one side and on the other, the mooing of cows and bulls. The students here are sort of lucky — there are at least 69 schools in the district that run in the open, without even a roof of hay.
Naveen Shakiya Prathmik Vidyalaya, located in Puna Ka Pura village, shows all that is wrong about school education in MP. The school was ‘established’ in 2011— if you consider having classes in the open an ‘establishment’. For two summers and two monsoons, teacher and taught were left to the vagaries of nature. Then, the villagers were kind enough to build a thatched roof.
Kamlesh Verma is the lone teacher here for 29 students — mostly girls. Since he came here in 2013, he has repeatedly approached the authorities for help but to no avail.
Every effort to seek help from school department turned futile. My students are in miserable condition and I have been seeing them suffer for years. There was hope that one day I can persuade officials to build them a small school. But now I am tired as no one seems to bother about our plight,” Verma told TOI.
He said earlier he used to teach in the shade of trees but bad weather conditions compelled him to find an alternative. He sought help from villagers who made him a shanty of grass.
“This was a great help from locals but it fails to protect the children. During rains, I shut the school or find another shelter, like a cowshed, where my students will be safe. But it’s not easy to continue like this,” said Verma
Mid-day meals are often skipped as municipal officials fail to deliver supplies, say locals. The days the kid get lunch at school, they have to sit near a cowshed to eat.
“The stench of cow dung and urine hits you so hard that you can’t imagine sitting there, let alone eat. Kids share the joy of eating together but their plight is visible,” said a villager.
Flies usually found feeding on cow dung make the rounds of the kids’ thalis, posing a risk of infections. “Many children have fallen ill but we never realized these unhygienic surroundings could be a reason,” said Rajeev khushwaha, a resident of the village.
“Studying and eating in these conditions are dangerous,” he said. Interestingly, the school shows signs of increasing education levels as enrolment keeps increasing every year despite the pitiful conditions. “Many children of this village want to study, wear uniform and sit in class. But when they see the school like this, their confidence is shattered. They come any way,” said the teacher. ?