Over 4,550 students enrolled in 10 municipal schools in Ahmedabad have been forced to shift to other schools over the past one year after the authorities declared the school buildings as “dilapidated” and “dangerous” and allegedly closed them down.
Unable to commute the distance or due to other reasons, majority of these students have dropped out.
Questioning the guidelines followed to declare a school dilapidated, AMC School Board member Illyas Qureshi said, “On the pretext of shifting students to other schools, authorities closed down these schools. Schools in areas of Rakhiyal, Gomtipur and Rajpur have also been closed down since the last one-and-a-half years, but no work has been done on these schools like Danilimda school, which has been closed down over the past four years,” Qureshi said.
AMC School Board Chairman DJ Tomar said, “Yes, there is a delay and schools are closed. But since the school board is 100 years old, buildings are old, too. Structural engineers of the municipal corporation will inspect the old buildings and decide whether they need repairs or should be brought down.” He said students of the schools closed down havd been admitted to nearby schools.
“If the schools were functioning, there would have been a problem. But since we are following home learning due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we are not facing much issues other than delay in construction work. We wrote to the municipal commissioner last month bringing this to his notice. He has sought details of priority schools and it has been communicated,” the chairman said.
AMC School Board Administrative Officer LD Desai said, “The deadline given to the contractor for Danilimda school was early this year, which got delayed due to the pandemic. So, he has been given an extension of six months. The process for other school buildings is also underway.”
Of the 10, six schools, with over 200 rooms, are in the east zone in areas including Bapunagar, Vinzol, Rakhiyal and Gomtpiur, and have over 3,120 students. Three schools are in the north zone in Saraspur with a total 1,440 students, while one school with 400 students is in west zone’s Nava Vadaj area.
Qureshi also alleged the buildings of Jamalpur Urdu school number 6, Gomtipur school number 3 and 4, Gomtipur school number 1 and 2, Rajpur Urdu school number 1,26 and 7, Rakhiyal Hindi School number 1, Rakhiyal Urdu school number 1 and 2, Danilimda Gujarati school number 1,2, 3 and 4 are not dilapidated but require some repair work.
“There is some kind of nexus being played out at the cost of students’ education. As many as 28 shops are running from the Rakhiyal Urdu school number 1 and 2 that are yet to be given notice,” he said. These buildings, he said, have become a place for anti-social elements. Desai said, “The shops do not come under us. So, I won’t be able to comment on this.”
While teachers are transferred to other schools, students are shifted to nearby ones. However, in many cases students end up dropping out. “Students in these schools are from surrounding slum areas who cannot afford private schools. When these schools are being closed down, parents cannot afford commuting costs,” said Sukhdev Patel, who works for child rights and education. Alleging child rights violation under Right to Education Act, he said, “It is surprising allocation in the school board budget for new buildings was announced this year but no work has been done,” he said.
Over the last decade, the number of students enrolled in schools under the AMC board has reduced from 1.6 lakh to 1.22 lakh.
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