Kashmiri kids study ‘in company of animals’

Baramulla, Ihk—Amid tall claims of the state administration on taking steps to ‘streamline school education’ in Kashmir, a primary school functioning from the lawns of a local resident in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district reflects the sorry state of affairs. Here, a classroom in open sky—where at least 57 students attend their daily classes—have a unique ambience: they “play” with animals, especially cows that are tied just a few meters away from the ‘classroom’.
The Government Boys Primary School (GBPS) at Rather Mohalla of Bararipora, Bijhama was established in 2003 under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), but lacks proper accommodation. Functioning in jurisdiction of Zone Chandanwari of Uri area in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, the school is a glaring example of messy state of affairs in education sector.
The school is presently working from shabby two rooms situated adjacent to a cowshed of the owner who has given accommodation on rent.
While the School Education department has asked all school authorities to set up herbal gardens in premises of the educational institutes, children at GBPS Braripora are surrounded by cow dung, thus posing health hazard for the students and the staff.
“It is completely unhygienic here. To teach students in such conditions is a shame,” said a teacher posted in the school.
GBPS is not the lone case where infrastructure deficit is visible. As per the official figures, about 123 schools are functioning in congested conditions in dilapidated rented rooms in Kashmir. “Let the authorities see the ground situation particularly in rural areas. Primary section is meant for grooming a student but it has remained out of focus,” said a retired school principal, who wished to remain anonymous.
GBPS has an enrollment of 57 students and two teachers. “Earlier we had only 27 students but last year the department merged Boys Primary School (BPS) Naganadhi village which had an enrollment of 28 students with the GBPS,” an official said. The department started rationalization to “streamline the pupil-teacher ratio” in schools and shift schools in government-owned buildings, but here the case is different. Authorities here shifted a school from permanent accommodation to rented building.
“BPS Naganadhi was operating in permanent accommodation but its walls developed severe cracks and department instead of repairing the walls shifted the students to GBPS Rather Muhalla,” an official said, adding that the repair of the building would cost maximum of Rs 10,000 for the department.—GK

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