On most days, students and teachers of the Government Primary School in Ludhiana’s Moti Nagar struggle to find empty spaces that can double up as classrooms. When their school building was declared unsafe in July, the teachers initially shuffled the 180 students between a nearby gurdwara and a broken-down shed. But now they hold classes under a tree in an open ground in Moti Nagar, where the children are hunched under umbrellas and share space with garbage strewn on the grass.
This September 5, however, the teachers have an additional headache — they have to arrange for radios or television sets so that the students, from classes I to V, can listen to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address on Teachers Day. “For some time, we held classes in a nearby gurdwara, but then they disallowed us. The education department says new classrooms will be built but they don’t know when. When it rains, classes are stopped mid-way and students are sent home,” explained a teacher requesting anonymity.
All five classes are held under one tree, the only one there. The school has two teachers for the 180 students, most of them children of migrant workers employed in the local industries. There are no toilets and drinking water is obtained from the unsafe building which has a municipal connection.
All thoughts however are on the logistics for Teachers Day. “The education department says speak loudly and teach the students but how are we to do that when a tree is a classroom for five classes at one time. As for Teachers Day, even if we hire a TV for a few hours, from where are we going to access a cable connection or dish feed. Who is going to pay for the expenses? If the TV is borrowed and it starts raining, who will pay for the damaged TV set? We have no solution at present. Maybe we will YouTube the speech on our mobile phones but even then how will 180 students hear,” said another teacher.
Without a roof for 17 years
Conditions at the Government Primary School on Jail Road in Ludhiana’s Field Ganj aren’t much different. The school is run in the open, under a plastic sheet supported on bamboo sticks. Amreek Kaur, in charge of the school, said there are 94 children in five classes, two teachers and an attendant. She is now looking for someone who could lend them a radio set for a few hours on Friday afternoon.
Although a teacher, Amreek Kaur says she also sweeps and cleans the open ground in front of the ruins of the school building which was declared unsafe in 1997. There are no toilets and no arrangements for drinking water.
Kaur added they had been asked to hire a TV set with a generator, but points out that it will be useless without a cable connection or continued…