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Govt apathy clear in Gujarat schools, says Sisodia as BJP MPs ‘expose’ Delhi claims

AAP leader and Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia visited government schools in Gujarat Education Minister Jitu Vaghani’s constituency Bhavnagar on Monday, while BJP leaders made similar visits to government schools in Delhi.

Delhi Deputy CM and Education Minister Manish Sisodia at a school in Bhavnagar on Sunday. (Express Photo)

Ahead of Gujarat Assembly elections scheduled in December this year, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday drew political battle lines on social media when leaders of both parties visited schools in Gujarat and Delhi.

AAP leader and Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia visited government schools in Gujarat Education Minister Jitu Vaghani’s constituency Bhavnagar on Monday, while BJP leaders made similar visits to government schools in Delhi.

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Sisodia visited primary school number 62 run by the Bhavnagar Municipal Corporation (BMC) and Sidsar Primary School number 1 run by the district panchayat, both in Vaghani’s constituency, as part of his “inspection visit” and attacked the ruling BJP government for their alleged failure to improve the state’s education system. The BJP is in power at the BMC.

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Sisodia was accompanied by AAP Gujarat president Gopal Italia and senior leader Isudan Gadhvi. The Delhi deputy CM made observations on the dilapidated state of school buildings and cleanliness of the school premises, going live on social media.

Sisodia said in a statement, “This is the reality of government schools and the public education system in Gujarat. Ahead of my pre-announced visit, they shortlisted the best government schools and hung a few smart boards which no one in school knew how to operate. But they were unaware of the fact that I might visit other schools too. As soon as I reached schools in the interiors of Bhavnagar, the picture of the government’s apathy was clear and the truth of their efforts of showcasing fake smart schools was exposed.”

“I am extremely saddened to see the government schools in such bad shape. It’s been 75 years since independence but we still haven’t been able to provide good education, why? How will India progress if each child doesn’t get quality education? Let’s take a pledge to work together to ensure that every child gets a good education (sic),” posted Delhi CM and AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal on Twitter.

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Soon after Sisodia’s visit, two BJP Members of Parliament (MP) from Delhi, visited two government schools in Delhi and claimed they are “exposing” the “world class” education system of the Kejriwal government on social media.

BJP MP Parvesh Singh Sahib, who represents West Delhi, visited Delhi government school in Pandwala Khurd, while BJP MP from South Delhi Ramesh Bidhuri visited another government school in his constituency.

On April 6, Vaghani had said that parents who are unhappy with Gujarat’s education system should consider moving to another state or foreign country to avail of quality education for their children. Sisodia, who also serves as Delhi’s Education Minister, had criticised Vaghani’s statement, calling it an insult to the parents of Gujarat and had announced that he will visit government schools in the state to see the work carried out by the BJP led state government.

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As #GujaratkeSchoolDekho was trending on twitter Monday, handles of AAP and BJP leaders were flooded with photos and videos of government schools from both Gujarat and Delhi.

Later, in a statement, the AAP said “tall claims” of BJP government in Gujarat about its education system “fell flat” as Sisodia “exposed” the reality of government schools in the state.

“The sights at the government schools were dreadful and infrastructure was life threatening… Cracks in the roof and walls were telling the stories of government’s apathy. This is the reality of government schools and the public education system in Gujarat,” the statement said.

Claiming that not even a single classroom had desks and benches, Sisodia said in his statement, “When I spoke with the students and teachers, they said there are not enough desks and benches in the school to accommodate all children. Thus students are made to sit on the floor… washrooms and drinking water facilities were at its worst and were efficient enough to spread an outbreak of a disease. There were webs of electricity wires dangling overhead in classrooms…”

“Despite such a poor state of government schools in Gujarat, Mr Jitubhai Vaghani was arrogant enough to say that ‘those who do not like the education system of Gujarat can leave for Delhi’,” the statement added.

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“The BJP government in Gujarat still has time to accept their faults and work on improving infrastructure of government schools otherwise the public is intelligent enough to choose the right party that will work for strengthening the education system in Gujarat,” it said.

In the municipal school for Classes 6 to 8 with an enrollment of 165 students, 137 students were present Monday. The school has overall achieved B Grade (74 per cent) in Gunotsav 2.0, the annual evaluation conducted by the state government, wherein it is in A Grade (80 per cent) in Teaching-Learning domain.

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The upper primary section runs out of the old building constructed in 1984 while the lower primary section runs out of a new building in Sarvodaya Society and has 266 students.

“We had no prior intimation about the visit of the Minister. After he arrived, one of our cluster research coordinators went there,” said Yogesh Bhatt, administrative officer of the Municipal School Board.

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KV Miyani, district primary education officer of Bhavnagar, too, said that they had no prior intimation about Sisodia’s visit. “They just drove in. But it being a government school, people are at liberty to visit it,” said Miyani.

Shantilal Vasani, principal of the Sidsar Kendravarti School, who rushed to the old campus after learning of Sisodia’s arrival, said the school has sanctioned posts of 27 teachers, of which five are vacant. “Sisodia interacted with teachers in the lower primary section,” said the principal.

Despite repeated attempts, Vaghani could not be reached for comments.

Recently, Sisodia had invited Vaghani for a televised debate on the education models of BJP ruled Gujarat and AAP ruled Delhi. In reply, Vaghani had dared the AAP to rule a state for over 27 years first.

First published on: 12-04-2022 at 00:08 IST
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