It is a story of utter callousness of the Education Department, and the sufferers are thousands of students studying in government schools.
At a time when the winter is at its peak and no one leaves the house without putting on adequate woollens, these students go to school every morning with little protection against the cold because they have still not got the winter uniform.
The schools are in Mauli Jagran, Vikas Nagar, Raipur Kalan, Karsan, Manimajra Pocket number 6 and Daria. Most of the students are from poor families. Students from classes I to VIII are eligible to get free uniform.
But stand outside any of these schools in the morning and you will find poorly clad students walking in bare shirts, last year’s trousers which hang above ankles because the students have grown, and many wearing old, worn-out jerseys from which their shirt sleeves hang out.
An official said that the schools were given permission to buy the uniform directly from the market if they failed to find a supplier in time, but none of the schools did that.
A member of one of the school management committees said, “We have placed the order, but the suppliers have delayed the supplies.’’
The principal of the Government High School in Mauli Jagran said that the uniform would be distributed in a few days. “The school had placed the order on December 18 and it was a bulk order for 2,287 students,” the principal said by way of explanation.
“The schools should allow the children to wear their casual jerseys till the time they are able to distribute the winter uniform,” suggested Kailash, father of a class VI student at the Government Model High School, Vikas Nagar.
Some schools on the periphery claim that they have distributed the uniform. “Students must have given their sweaters for washing, which is why they are wearing the old ones,” said a teacher at the Government High School in Maloya colony.
Parents say it is the same story every year: summer uniform is given at the end of summer and the winter uniform at the end of winter because the administration can’t streamline the procurement.
Nitin Goyal, an advocate and social activist, called it “criminal negligence’’. Sachin Sharma, chairman of the Youth Innovative Society, an NGO, said, “If the students have not received the uniform yet, it is because of the lackadaisical attitude of the school principals.’’