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Thursday, July 19, 2018

For ‘model’ school struggling to survive, tense environment fresh setback

Also, a few teachers from a particular community were allegedly threatened by certain people after the alleged rape incident came to light.

Written by Divya Goyal | Khushnagri (chamba) | Published: August 14, 2017 6:39:31 am
There are no classrooms for senior secondary students, whom the school started admitting since an ‘upgrade’ in 2010. Classes are instead held in the open, under the shade of a tree or a canopy when it rains.

IF THERE is one thing that Khushnagri village in Chamba village ‘gained’ after last month’s alleged rape incident – apart from infamy – it’s attention. The situation that the local Government Model Senior Secondary School is currently in – a teacher allegedly raped a 15-year-old girl student (of the school in Tissa town) that added to the communal tension – doesn’t have basic facilities despite being a ‘model school.’ It is also entitled for funds from the Centre.

There are no classrooms for senior secondary students, whom the school started admitting since an ‘upgrade’ in 2010. Classes are instead held in the open, under the shade of a tree or a canopy when it rains.

Often, the school does not get proper water supply and teachers have to arrange drinking water on their own, filling drums from nearby areas so that mid-day meal can be cooked. Even a principal is missing. And now, the police regularly patrolling the campus has severely affected the school environment.

“We have only two teachers for Class XI and XII. There are only five classrooms so students of Class VI to X sit inside and remaining outside. After eight teachers shifted recently, only four have been sent to replace them. So we are facing a crisis. For how long can teachers qualified to teach classes VI to X be asked to teach higher classes? Due to this, even the lower classes are suffering,” said Rajdeen, the ‘officiating’ principal.

Also, a few teachers from a particular community were allegedly threatened by certain people after the alleged rape incident came to light. After they refused to continue at the school, they wereshifted to Tissa. With nearly 150 Muslim students and 90 Hindus, the school never witnessed any communal disputes even as ten of eleven teachers here were Hindus. But the problems have suddenly multiplied.

Rajdeen, who was the only Muslim teacher on duty on the day Hindu teachers were allegedly beaten up on July 29 by a mob, has also given an application for his transfer but it wasn’t accepted. “My colleagues who were Hindus were beaten up and it was wrong. I do not want to continue here too but my transfer application has not been accepted,” he said.

The school was even closed by the administration seeing the tension till August 3 and reopened on August 4.
For class XI and XII, the school only offers arts (humanities) stream and in that too, there are no teachers for three of five subjects. Therefore, the school fails to retain class X students who either drop out, shift to Tissa school or other schools. Currently, there are only 17 students in senior secondary wing- 7 in class XI and 17 in class XII. Even as there were almost 45 students in class X last year, only seven continued at this school in class XI.

When The Indian Express team visited the school, a police team was in the school for probe and some students were sitting in open outside principal’s room. Students, with books in their hands, were sitting without a teacher as the meetings between principal and police went on inside. There was no other place available for students to sit. Teachers admit that the rape case and communal clash has severely affected the studies as the school already struggled to function due to lack of teachers and classrooms.

“Despite being a model school and an upgrade announced in 2010, we never got the required funds to build more classrooms or purchase benches. Now, after the row, there are only five teachers left for Class VI to XII and only two of them are qualified to teach these classes. Students hardly study as police patrol the campus for entire day and visit for enquiries or questioning. Of 30 sanctioned posts of teachers, 25 are vacant. The innocent students have been the ultimate victim of this Hindu-Muslim row,” said a teacher.

Deputy commissioner Chamba Sudesh Mokhta said that once communal tension subsides, the school will be provided all the facilities and vacant posts of teachers will be filled.

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