Schools Without Boundaries: Heaps of garbage and pools of water make life difficult for students

Government schools in less developed areas on the periphery of Chandigarh lack basic infrastructure. Among the most worrying is the absence of compound walls, compromising the safety and security of students.

Written by Shub Karman Dhaliwal | Chandigarh | Published:November 21, 2016 8:11 am
Chandigarh schools, dirty Chandigarh schools, school infrastructure, basic hygiene, Chandigarh news, India news, latest news, indian express Government Model High School in Mauli Colony. Kamleshwar Singh

Even as the Chandigarh administration has engaged men and women of eminence to teach students in certain government schools located in the main city, in the city’s outer areas there are schools that are frequented more by stray cattle, stray dogs and unwanted people to lack of certain basic perquisites needed to set up a school. Poor infrastructure, broken boundary walls, absence of proper playgrounds in such schools and much more, tells a story of the indifferent attitude of the administration with regard to these schools.

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Stinking heaps of garbage, pools of water and loads of wastage accumulated around the periphery of such schools make the life difficult for students, who are often given lectures on keeping their surroundings clean. The message of ‘Swachh Bharat’ has not much made difference as far as the immediate fringe areas of these schools are concerned. Majority of the students on rolls of these schools belong to poor sections of the society.

In fact, there appears to be two sets of schools in the Union Territory of Chandigarh. One set school has proper infrastructure, including vast playing fields, imposing buildings and so on. On the other hand, there are schools that wear a shabby look with no proper boundary walls and environs for students to focus on their studies. Mostly, the schools with a poor appearance are located in the villages. Evidently, these schools are poor cousins of the schools in high profile sectors such as 15, 16, 35 etc.

More interesting is the fact that the poor condition of these schools does not seem to have affect the government authorities concerned in the UT administration. School authorities have been repeatedly reminding the administration regarding the lack of infrastructure but things have been moving at a snail’s pace.

Model High School, Khudda Jassu

When will the Government Model High School at Khudda Jassu village get a proper boundary wall? This question has been raised repeatedly but the answer is yet to be found. For the past eight months, the school authorities have been trying hard to get the wall constructed but their efforts have not borne fruit so far. Realising that the school needs more land to provide playing field for students and other activities, the village panchayats had given high value land adjacent to the school for constructing the boundary wall and also for a playing a field for the students. But the dream of having good grounds for the students has not been realised till date.

“A couple of letters have been written to the administration and to the office of the Chief Engineer concerned but things have not moved yet in the right direction,” says a school teacher. A proper boundary wall is required to ensure that students do not slip away during school hours.

He said a letter was written to Chief Engineer on April 18 requesting that a boundary wall be constructed to replace the fencing around the land which was made available to the school after removing a slum. Another letter was written to the administration on June 7 in this regard. The engineering department was asked to extend the boundary wall around the said land to convert it into proper playing fields. However, things remain at a standstill.

The government school was earlier deprived of a playground for the students due to the non availability of land. Now when it has got land, the things haven’t improved much. Encroachment of the land and with no proper boundary wall, the school presents a poor picture. “If the boundary wall is constructed, it will enable us to let the children play. The available piece of land could become a good playing field after proper levelling. We have written to the authorities concerned a number of times and are awaiting their response on the issue” said a school official.

A portion of the existing wall, which separates the school from the adjoining land, has been falling apart. For the schoolteachers, it is a matter of concern because of the most of the students walk through that exit created due to the collapsed wall at several places. “Although a security guard and school teachers keep watch on the students to prevent them from slipping away through the exits where boundary wall has collapsed but still the risk of students going to that area remains. As now toilets are being constructed near the broken wall, it makes the situation all the more vulnerable,” said a teacher who did nog wish to be named.

Lack of proper boundary wall and not having a playground for students are not the only shortcomings in the school. The school also has a SAMPARK centre on its premises which is also a big hindrance for the school. It remains a busy place as people turn up there to deposit bills and other purpose. Frequency of visitors to the SAMPARK centre disturbs the atmosphere at the school. Sometimes mischievous elements also enter the school campus in the garb of the visitors of the SAMPARK and indulge in activities that disturb the decorum of the educational institute.

“Many a time, friends of students from outside come over during the break and indulge in fun and games. Moreover, they bring some food from outside during break. Anybody can enter through the gate just by saying that he/she is here to visit the SAMPARK,” said a student.

It is mandatory to provide basic infrastructure, including proper boundary wall, in schools under the Right to Education Act. There should be proper grilling on the boundary wall so that students could not scale the wall and cross over to the other side.

Government High School, Mauli Colony

Take the case of another Government High School at Mauli Colony located at a short distance from Kala gram. This is the school where stray cattle and dogs make unannounced entry posing threat to students more often because of the broken boundary wall.

Asked about the condition of the wall, the Headmaster of the School Manoj Kumar said: “We have informed the Chief Engineer in writing about the reconstruction of the wall and waiting for the response”.

In a letter to the Chief Engineer on September 26 this year, the school authorities had stated “the boundary wall of the school had fallen due to heavy rain. Our school is situated in a very sensitive area and due to the broken boundary wall, the school premises has become very unsafe for students. There remains a threat of unwanted people entering the school. So you are requested to reconstruct it as soon as possible”. A similar letter was written earlier on August 8. Another reminder was sent on August 31.

There are 2,500 students at the school at Mauli Colony and in Hallo Majra school the number of students is close to 3,500. “When we are facing such conditions what will be the using of having guest faculty in our school,” said a teacher of Mauli Colony School.

The situation at the Government Senior Secondary School, Mauli Jagran, is similar. The boundary wall of this school has almost disappeared. Only some ruins have left. The entire school campus is exposed to public gaze. There is no entry gate in absence of boundary wall.

A school teacher said that two letters were written to the executive engineer to construct the boundary wall. However, the situation has remained unchanged so far.

The grills, which were put up on the boundary wall at the Government High School, Dadu Majra colony, have collapsed at various places. At some points, these grills are hanging from the walls. By putting up the grills on the boundary wall, additional security arrangement was made at the school. “We have informed the authorities concerned about the broken grills. What we cannot say that when these would set right,” said a school teacher.

Government Model High School, Hallo Majra

Things are much worse at the Government Model High School, Hallo Majra. First of all, the school has two separate campuses that are nearly 200 metres apart. After taking class on one campus, teachers have to move to the other campus. This leads to inconvenience for the teaching staff.

While one campus has a playground, the other campus don’t have such facility. To reach from one campus to other, teachers have to walk through a village street that links both the campuses. There is a religious place adjoining to the one campus.

The classes are held under a tin-shed. There is a garbage dump adjacent to the schools. The foul smell emanating from the garbage makes the life tough for the schoolkids. Rainwater also wells up near the school. It acts as a mosquito breeding spot.

There is no boundary wall around both the campuses. There is barbed wire fencing around the front yard exposing the entire school campus to outside world. Asked about the absence of the boundary wall, a teacher that as the land to set up the school was taken on lease due to that reason boundary wall has not been erected.

The school is often frequented by stray dogs and cattle in absence of the boundary wall. More over the exposure of the school campus to the outside world affects the attention of the students. “There remains a risk of stray dogs biting the students. A watch has to be kept to protect students from stray cattle”, said a teacher. One can easily guess that how difficult it is for students to study in such conditions, says another teacher.

Just adjacent to the school is vegetable market flooded with venders. Due high level of noise in the vegetable market and frequency of vehicles, lot of disturbance is created affecting the students. Not far away from the school is located the garbage disposing facility. The foul smell emanating from the garbage centre has another disturbing factor for students. “Can students study and teachers take classes in such a chaotic atmosphere all around”? ask a teacher. There is need to create proper conditions to teach students, he adds. The number of rooms is far less than required. Students have to sit either in the corridors or in the open.