A day after Newsline reported that two-thirds of students in government primary schools in Mohali do not have benches to sit on,another survey carried out in the schools found there were no sanitation workers,clerks,or any other employees other than the teachers. In such a situation,the teachers are forced to get the premises cleaned and maintained through their own salaries.
We are not just teachers in these schools,we are everything from sweepers to gardeners to peons and gatekeepers, said a teacher at a government primary school in Mohali,echoing many other teachers in the town.
The teachers allege that the annual building,repair and maintenance grants given to the school Rs 10,000 or Rs 15,000 per school depending on the number of classrooms under the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) scheme are not enough to pay even electricity and water bills. They added that they pooled in money to pay the bills that went upto Rs 5,000 per month during the peak season.
Meanwhile,for cleaning and sanitation most school teachers hire a daily wager who cleans the school once in a while. There are some schools where the teachers have hired permanent workers for the purpose at their own expense.
The absence of workers has created a hygiene problem in some schools. The school in Mataur is an example where a small campus without a playground and a strength of 413 students (which is second largest in town) has led to a congested,filthy campus.
The toilets are in a bad shape. I always put a cloth around my nose whenever I go there. Normally I avoid going to the toilets if I can, said a class V student at the school.
The District Education Officer (E) Gurjeet Singh,when contacted,agreed there are currently no posts for any employee other than teachers in any school. This is a problem in the entire state. There are no provisions for these posts, he said.
Apart from this,many schools have no playgrounds. These include Lambian (Sector 69),Mataur (Sector 70),Sohana (Sector 77),Shahi Majra,Mauli Baidwan,Kambala,Kambali and Jagatpura. The schools that have a playground are not maintained and are littered. For instance,the the playfield in the Phase 1 school is thick with undergrowth and litter,while in the Phase 6 School garbage and broken window panes are a common sight. There are some problems that are specific to certain schools. In Sohana,the campus always gets water-logged during the monsoon. The classrooms are filled with dirty water because the school is low-lying as compared to its surroundings. We recently got a ramp built outside the boundary so that it does not happen next year, said the principal,while adding that most of such development works in the school are done with the efforts from the sarpanch and villagers.
In Jagatpura,a bridge connecting the village to the rest of the town collapsed due to which teachers face a harrowing time commuting to the school. Some students cannot make it on time and so we have allowed them to come late instead of using the damaged bridge, said a teacher.
However,where the government has failed,private entities have stepped up. Benches and mats are at times donated by individuals. The school in Kambala has been adopted by Phillips Electronics Indian Ltd.,under its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and regularly provides maintenance donations,holds interactive sessions,celebrates festivals and organises medical camps making the students,as a teacher called it,a happy lot.