Incomplete set of text books, no benches to sit and unsafe classrooms mark the state of school education in the district. This, even as chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh, no less, expressed his disappointment at the 57% result in Class-10 at the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB). After his much-publicised comment, government officials had vowed to improve the education standards and take action, if warranted against teachers. Three months later, it is clear that before any action is taken against anyone, the government needs to ensure the basics that go into making a school are made available.
The bitter reality
Here in the region at least, the PSEB is yet to release books of 17 subjects to students of Classes 1-8. Anecdotal evidence suggests the same is true, across the state as well. “Delay in distributing text books is definitely causing academic loss to students. Downloading books online is an option not all students are versed with. We are trying our best to teach the students in the best possible way so that they don’t flunk in exams. Availability of books, though, is a major concern,” said a senior official of local education department.
10 benches for 200 students
An HT team visited a primary school in Jeevan Nagar to find that the school had only 10 benches for 200 students. As a result, students were making do with gunny bads spread on the floor to sit and listen to lectures. This leads to burns and rashes on the skin of some of the students.
“We feel helpless at times to help students from avoiding the burning heat. They require proper facilities for education so that they can perform well,” principal Nirmal Jeet Kaur said.
What is worse than no facilities is the complete turning of blind eye of the authorities to the use of classrooms that the state engineering department has declared unsafe.
District education officer Dharamveer Singh said, “I have instructed the authorities of the schools not to use classrooms which require renovation. At the Jeevan Nagar primary school, three classrooms are in use for the students. We plan to merge the school in a government secondary school nearby where there is ample space. We have also made a list of the infrastructure required. We have made a request for more money.”
Headmistress of a government secondary school told HT that many schools in the district were struggling to pay electricity bills. “Our power connection was disconnected was we failed to pay bills. The school eventually took a loan and teachers contributed from their pockets to get power restored,” she claimed.