December 17, 2021 1:31:21 am
Replying to a question on students of a government primary school in the tribal district of Chhota Udepur attending classes in the courtyard of a house after the school building collapsed last year, Gujarat Education Minister Jitu Vaghani Thursday said that “children are made to sit in the open” during winters and there was “no need to take it otherwise”.
The minister was fielding a question over the delay in reconstruction of the school building of Vagalwada in Chhota Udepur district, which had collapsed in the monsoon of 2020 due to its dilapidated condition. The students of various classes, who belong to the remote villages, now gather at the home of the mid-day meal cook to attend the offline classes. Seated on the ground with their saffron study stools in front of them, the students watch as the teachers squat down to the write on the class board placed against two bamboo sticks on the floor.
Vaghani, who was speaking on the sidelines of an event for the virtual address of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on ‘natural farming’ in Vadodara, was asked about the delay in the reconstruction of the building by the administration. The education minister said, “Wherever there is a request to repair dilapidated buildings, the government takes up the repair… Many times, during winters, children are made to sit in the open in schools… When I was a student, even I used to sit in the open and study. There is no need to take it otherwise. This issue is on my mind…”
Teachers of the school said that the dilapidated building of the school had collapsed during the monsoon in 2020, when the schools were closed due to the Covid-19 lockdown. Although the government announced reopening of schools in phases until October this year, the students had no school to go to. The teachers of the school then decided to conduct classes from the house of the mid-day meal cook, where the mid-day meal could also be served without a hassle.
Headteacher Mittal Rathwa said, “The request to first repair the dilapidated structure had been put forth before the district administration by the previous headteacher but nothing was done. Now the building is gone… The teachers are doing their best to teach the students in the present situation by calling students from their homes to the house of the mid-day meal cook. But the students belong to poor tribal families and most of them do not even have proper warm clothes to protect from the cold.”
A student of Class VI, Dhaval Rathwa said that the children were happy to be back in school but did not have enough woolens to keep them warm.
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