It is mission school for children of remote Lahaul and Spiti district every morning as they trudge to their institutes located at a height of up to 10,000 feet in freezing temperature that dips to as low as minus 25-30 degrees Celsius.
In contrast to their peers in Delhi and Chandigarh who are confined to their homes with their schools closed as soon as the mercury touches zero,children of the district brave all odds to reach school and rarely miss classes in the cold desert.
The district located 3,165 metres above sea level is cut off from rest of the world by road from mid-December every year due to heavy snowfall.
“Attendance in schools in the winter is high,” Deputy Director Education of the district,P N Parsheera said.
“There is no winter vacation in the schools here despite extreme winter. Snowfall is a usual phenomenon here and not a cause of much worry,” he said.
But in case snowfall is heavy,the Deputy Commissioner takes a decision on closure of schools,Parsheera said adding this winter the schools were not closed even for a single day.
There are 140 primary schools in the district,while number of middle schools is 19,high schools four and senior secondary schools 15.
Considering the harsh weather conditions in the district,the state government provides fuel wood to the schools to light ‘Bukhari’ (oven) to keep classrooms warm from November 15 to April 15,Parsheera said.
However,staff at a few schools complained about short supply of fuel wood causing hardship to students and teachers.
There are 15 classrooms and as many ovens in the Senior Secondary school,Keylong having a strength of 210 students. In extreme winter,an oven requires about 15 kg of wood but due to short supply we can light them for limited hours only,says Kishan Lal,an English teacher.
Chhering Dorje,in-charge of Government primary school,Kardang,about 1.5 km from district headquarters of Keylong,said there are two classrooms in the school but due to limited fuel wood children are put together in one room as only one oven can be lighted.
However,Parsheera said he has not received any complaint about shortage of fuel wood.
While Tindi Senior Secondary school is located at a height of 10,000 feet,government senior secondary school Myar Nallah and the one in Darcha in Udaipur sub-division is nestled at a height of 10,500 feet.
With roads remaining inaccessible,many students stays in hostels while others hire rented room near the school.