Sincere teachers and a headmistress struggle to keep their dignity in miserable surroundings while community leaders and the government pay nothing but lip-service
Only a government school can do this. One room and several classes! From outside it’s a community hall but on entering you will find 45 to 50 students of different divisions studying. Two blackboards and teaching tools and one partition is all they have.
The GSP School at Golnaka in Amberpet accommodates students from classes I to V in one elongated room. Each teacher has to speak in a high tone to reach the students and in the chaos all end up out shouting at each other.
They don’t even have a toilet of their own. This school was started 15 years back by a volunteer group called Vidya Volunteers. Later in 2000 the government took over the school. The teachers are government-appointed. “We all are well qualified but this is the kind of environment we work in. We don’t have a choice that’s how it has been since the beginning. We have just one room and we are surviving in this space. We don’t even have a bathroom. It gets very inconvenient at times,” said Kalani G, a teacher.
According to the new rules by the education department each school should have its own toilets. Schools which fail to do will see their recognition rescinded. Following its own rules the government decided to transfer these students to other government schools which are 4 kilometers away from this school and shut down the one room school.
However, the slum leaders and local officials stopped this from happening. They are of the opinion that if these kids are transferred then they will not go and will quit studying.
“Regarding the toilet, we have arranged a school help who will take students to the nearest public toilet. Of the expansion of school we will do it soon. We have a budget sanctioned and will construct a better school next year. For this year to sustain students its better they study here in this school than change their school,” said Badraiah, a slum leader.
The headmistress of the school, Lalitha, agrees to the community’s decision. Talking to Postnoon she tells “It’s better that they study here than shifting them to another school which is 2-4 kilometers away. The backgrounds these students come from makes them prospective drop outs. So it’s better they study here than sending them out, however imperfect the situation is,” says Lalitha.On the other hand, looking deep into the matter she comments that the problem is with both the community heads and the government.
“According to the government rules there should be one school every one kilometer but here we have private schools but no government school within a 4 kilometers radius. Secondly, the slum leaders have been promising us that they will construct first floor soon and they also have `5 lakh sanctioned but we have not seen any results as yet,” she adds.
This is the condition of a school where students are stuffed in one room. In all possibilities a class II student may be attending class V classes and vice-versa. If the school children are transferred to another then the chances of drooping out are higher. If kept here this is the condition. What do they choose?
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