Updated: December 19, 2021 4:01:45 am
A day after the Gujarat High Court took suo motu cognisance of a report by The Indian Express on students attending classes in the courtyard of a village house after the collapse of a government primary school building at Vaghalwada in Chhota Udepur, district administration officials are scanning files to ascertain the “pending requests” for construction of classes and school structures across the district.
Among the pending applications is a 2018-sanctioned primary school in Jariyana village, about seven kilometres from Vaghalwada, which has never seen the allotment of a physical building. The Indian Express had reported that as many as 56 children of four sections of the Kaduliya Faliya Varg Jariyana primary school attend classes in the house of a local villager.
According to headmaster Navalsinh Rathwa of Jariyana primary school, the administration did not allot a building even after the school had commenced on August 1, 2018. “The school began in August 2018 as newly sanctioned for this village. But no building has been allotted so far although the school now has four grades from Class I to IV. I was appointed in January 2021 and have already petitioned the administration on multiple occasions… A few months back, they gave us a grant of Rs 25,000 from which we purchased a table and chair for teachers and class boards to conduct simultaneous classes,” Rathwa says.
The school runs four simultaneous classes from the courtyard of a local villager Samdu Dhanka. Rathwa says that Class 1 has 17 students while there are 10 students in Class 2, nine in Class 3 and 20 students in Class 4. “There are no benches, stools or tables or even a rug to have the students sit on the floor… The winters here are extreme as this is a remote hilly region of the tribal district. The children sit on the floor with their books spread out in front of them to note down the lessons. Most of them do not even have full pants, forget woollens,” Rathwa says, pointing to a green class board that stands against a wall of the exterior plastered wall of Dhanka’s house.
Prior to attending the school in Jariyana, the students would travel to another school about four kilometres away but, according to Rathwa, the school was sanctioned to encourage more children from the village to attend school. “Initially, the school also did not have any appointed teachers. The teachers from nearby primary schools were given the additional charge of taking classes here, as their time permitted. But we have now two full-time teachers, including me… The administration pays us our salaries,” Rathwa said.
While the division bench of Justices JB Pardiwala and NR Mehta of the Gujarat High Court Friday directed the state government to “immediately undertake the construction of a new school building” in Vaghalwada, also directing that an officer “not below the rank of additional secretary of the education department” to personally remain present before the court of the Chief Justice with an appropriate report in the case, the district administration has several pending applications seeking attention to the construction of classes in government primary schools.
An official of the district education department, on the condition of anonymity, said Chhota Udepur district had a total of 616 pending applications for the construction of classrooms and structures of government primary schools. While District Primary Education Officer SL Pawar remained unavailable for comments, District Collector S Charan did not respond to calls and text messages seeking a response from the administration.
Meanwhile, Charan, on Friday, had held a meeting with principals of residential schools, run under various special government projects, to address the complaints of students regarding facilities and catering.
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