To avoid missing the half-yearly exam, students piggybacked to school in Koti village on Monday as the water level of the Ghaggar in Morni rose due to the incessant downpour. Parents carried their wards on their back and shoulders while wading through the river. Still, 39 students of Government Senior Secondary School at Koti village missed their exams as they could not cross the river.
As it began raining from Sunday night, the water level of the Ghaggar rose when the students left for school on Monday morning. Exams from classes VI to XI were scheduled for Monday. On Saturday, 18 students from standard IX to XII had already missed the exam due to the same reason.
Jaipal Singh, a resident of Pathrothi village, had to carry his daughter Geetanjali of Standard IX on his back to help her cross the river so that she doesn’t miss her exam. “She was crying that she will miss her exam and at the same time got scared to cross the river. I knew it was risky for her and me too… but at least she felt safe that she was with her father,” he said.
Paramjeet Singh, another resident of the same village who also carried his daughter Payal, a student of Standard VII, said, “We are fed up. The government says send your children to school. Yet, have they even provided a proper access to the school.”
In Class VI, eight students missed the exam while in standard VII, four couldn’t take the exam. Six students of Standard VIII, nine of Standard IX, seven of Standard X and five of Standard XI failed to take the exam. After walking for three to seven kilometres from their respective villages, these students reached the river bank but couldn’t wade through Ghaggar.
The exam was scheduled to take place at 8.30 am. While Standard VI was to take the English exam, standards VII, VIII, IX, X and XI were to take science, Hindi, maths and history, respectively. Surinder, a student of Class X who had his maths exam, came covered in plastic but had to return from the river bank. Surinder had walked seven kilometres from his village Late Batoli to the river bank. But finding the Ghaggar swollen, he couldn’t risk crossing the river.
“Does the administration only swing into action after a casualty? We feel so helpless. At least we can get a temporary bridge until a permanent solution is chalked out. What if we are trying to cross and get washed away by the strong current?” said Surinder. “We have our boards this time and these examinations are highly important for us. We don’t even know whether the school will take our exam again,” he added.
Brij Kishore Gautam, a teacher of the school, said they were in the process of sending a request to the district education office to allow them to take the exams for these students again. “Every minute has been difficult for us. We don’t even know if we will survive while crossing the river this season and the officials are just speaking about tenders being floated, tenders being opened and what not…. We don’t understand these official jargons. Why can’t they provide a stopgap arrangement till then,” said the teacher.
Gautam added that his son Tanmay has been constantly asking whether he would be able to go to school on Tuesday since he missed school today. Panchkula DC Mukul Kumar said he had spoken to the Block Development Officer who said that the villagers had been insisting on a permanent solution only.
However, when the DC was told that the villagers have been asking for at least a temporary solution at present, he said, “Tomorrow itself, I will get the provision of a temporary bridge explored.” PWD officials said tenders have already been recalled and work will begin soon.