Chandigarh: Months on, ‘smart’ school plan yet to take offhttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/chandigarh-months-on-smart-school-plan-yet-to-take-off/

Chandigarh: Months on, ‘smart’ school plan yet to take off

The constant blame game between the UT Administration and Municipal Corporation over the jurisdiction of these schools has failed to do any good for the students.

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There is a shortage of classrooms, and nearly 50 students are being accommodated in small, dimly lit classrooms.

MONTHS AFTER former mayor Poonam Sharma said they would be converted into ‘smart’ schools, the seven primary schools functioning under the jurisdiction of the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation are yet to witness any change.

The constant blame game between the UT Administration and Municipal Corporation over the jurisdiction of these schools has failed to do any good for the students. Due to lack of proper infrastructural facilities and shortage of space for classrooms, students are still forced to sit on the floor during classes.

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In 2012, the UT Administration had handed over the charge of seven primary schools to the Chandigarh MC. In September last year, the then Mayor Poonam Sharma had visited Government Primary School, Sector 12 (PGI) and Government Primary School, Buterla. After conducting an inspection of the schools, Sharma had said better facilities would be provided to the primary schools in order to convert them into ‘smart’ schools.

Other than these two primary government schools, Government Primary schools in Sector 26, Mauli Complex and Railway Colony are also under the MC’s jurisdiction. Two primary schools in Manimajra have also been functioning under the MC since 2012.

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A visit to each of these schools, however, reveals a sorry state of affairs. There is a shortage of classrooms, and nearly 50 students are being accommodated in small, dimly lit classrooms. The schools also do not have sufficient furniture and students are forced to sit on the floor during classes. These schools lack playground spaces, and boundary walls to the schools also lie broken.

Recently, MC Commissioner Baldev Purushartha had also paid a visit to these primary schools and had pointed out the pitiable conditions in which the students are being forced to study. According to teacher at GPS, Sector 12, “The schools are running in double shifts, and there is also a shortage in the number of staff members. There is a constant tussle between the MC and the Administration over initiation of action for improvement, and nothing has been implemented so far.”
According to Mayor Arun Sood, the MC has not yet been handed over the complete charge of these schools. “Currently, work related to the repair and renovation of the buildings only falls under the jurisdiction of the MC. Appointment of teachers and payment of salaries is still being done by the Administration. The MC can only take up the issues related to the buildings, infrastructure improvement and installation of more furniture is not under our jurisdiction,” Sood told Chandigarh Newsline.

Sood added, “I do not know how former Mayor Poonam Sharma made promises of converting these schools into smart schools when the entire jurisdiction does not lie with the Municipal Corporation yet.”

Last year, an eight-member primary education committee headed by MC Councilor Sheela Devi was constituted to ensure provision of basic amenities to the students and staff members of these schools, but till date, no action has seen the light of the day. According to MC Councilor Subash Chawla, “Even though these schools have been shifted under the jurisdiction of the MC, not all powers have been transferred. We cannot even access the records of the attendance of teachers, or the mid-day meal statistics. Time and again, we have asked the Administration to give us the complete jurisdiction over these schools so that we can look after the entire renovation, but we are yet to receive a final answer from the education department on this.”

Chawla, however, added that work for renovation of these schools was the responsibility of the Municipal Corporation. Officials from the education department were unavailable for comment on the issue.