Updated: January 8, 2022 10:18:30 am
About 196 students of a primary school in Vadodara have been studying from makeshift classrooms, including one running from under a metal shade of an overgrown cemetery, since the beginning of physical sessions in August last year.
Two of the eight batches of Kanayda Primary School at Dabhoi taluka have found space in the cemetery located behind the village panchayat office and milk collection centre that, along with a madrassa located a few metres away, have also doubled up as classrooms to accommodate six other classes.
Right across the road from the cemetery is the primary school that was demolished in September 2020 due to its “hazardous dilapidated structure”.
On Friday, the villagers submitted a memorandum to the taluka education officer to expedite the construction of the primary school building that had been razed, stating that they had “locked down” the four make-shift arrangements as the administration lacked the “urgency” to resolve the issue.
The Kanayda village – a mixed neighbourhood of about 2,000 people – has a total of 196 children attending the school from classes one to eight. While 18 children each from Class one and two study under a metal shade in the overgrown burial ground of the village, classes for 32 children of Class three and 30 from Class four are held at the milk collection centre.
Similarly, 25 students from Class five and 27 children from Class six are taught at the gram panchayat office, while 24 children of Class seven and 22 from class eight attend the lessons from the premises of a local madrassa.
“We have only divided the classes in the locations as per grades. All children attend their respective classes. Education is more important than other issues. On the ground, we are together trying to find the best solution for the future of our children,” said Munir Pathan, a local resident.
When The Indian Express visited the village Friday, the villagers had gathered to discuss the issue after locking down the premises even as six teachers sat near the milk collection centre to distribute lessons to the children for at-home study. They also submitted a memorandum to the taluka education officer to expedite the construction of the primary school.
“We had no other option but to think of alternatives as the work on rebuilding the school has not even begun. The physical classes had begun in July-August last year and as the classes were added in phases, we decided to allot space. However, at the end, the youngest ones had to be accommodated in the cemetery as there is shade there,” Sarpanch Naginbhai Rathodiya told this newspaper.
In their memorandum on Friday, signed by Rathodiya, the villagers said, “The dilapidated building of the primary school of the village was demolished without setting up any alternate space from where the students could attend physical classes… However, since we sense no urgency in rectifying this issue on behalf of the administration by reconstructing the school structure, we decided to lock down the four premises for school use from January 3.”
The villagers further contended that the administration had not begun the work on the building, despite the funds being approved. “We have been told Rs 55 lakh has already been approved for six classrooms to be constructed on the school premises. However, we request the administration to look into the issue and ensure that eight classrooms are constructed so as to ensure that all classes have their individual classrooms,” the memorandum said.
Vadodara District Panchayat Education Committee Chairman Ashwin Patel said the delay in the reconstruction of the school building has been due to the lack of interest among contractors to construct the building. “A tender was already issued by the district panchayat after receiving the approvals from the education department for the construction of the building last year. The project was estimated at Rs 55 lakh for six classrooms but not a single bid was received when the tender was floated… Thereafter, we increased the project cost by Rs 17 lakh and the panchayat has approved Rs 72 lakh for construction of eight classrooms. The new tenders will be floated soon. We are hoping that some bidders will come forward and take up the project,” Patel said.
In the interim, he added, a grant of Rs 70,000 has been sanctioned to the panchayat to repair a community hall in the village that can be used to accommodate the 36 children who are currently studying from the premises of a cemetery. “We have already had a word with the panchayat and asked them to immediately repair a community hall that is in shambles at the moment. It will take about a week for them to complete the flooring work and the repair of windows in that old community hall… The remaining classes can go on as per the current arrangement from the milk collection officer, panchayat office and the madrassa,” Patel elaborated. The village is set to witness a gram panchayat poll this year.
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