Around 1,500 students in a government-run school in north-east area of the city sit on bare ground, instead of benches of classrooms.
Sarvodaya Kanya Vidayalaya located in New Seemapuri have two school shifts, morning and afternoon. While the morning classes (7am -12.30 pm) cater to girl students, the afternoon shift (1pm-6 pm) is attended by boys. “On some winter days, the fog is so thick that we can't see what the teacher is writing on the blackboard. Sitting on the freezing cold ground makes us sick. We are too scared to complain to the teacher. When the weather becomes unbearable, we are asked to sit inside till the sun comes out. During winters specially, teachers don't teach, they like to sit in the sun. Then there is this constant disturbance due to noise coming from classrooms,” said Mariyam, a standard 7 student of the school.
For the last three to four years, students say, the school has made it mandatory for students from standard 6th to 8th on the ground in the open.
According to NGO, Pardarshita, which is working towards creating awareness about Right To Information (RTI) Act and Right to Education (RTE) Act, the school which has 3,100 students (in the two shifts) have only 28 classes to accommodate them.
“Over 1,000 students in the morning shift and over 1,200 in the afternoon classes sit in the open. Last year, we sent a written complaint to Delhi Commission for Protection Of Child Rights (DCPCR) regarding the poor infrastructure in the school last year, and written complaints from parents and students were sent to DCPCR on July 17, 2010. We also sent a complaint letter to Directorate of Education (DoE), but the situation remains the same. We have requested for tents or sheds to be put up, if not pucca class rooms, but are yet to any response,” said Rajeev Kumar.
Though the city's winters are difficult, the summer season is even worse, with temperature rising to 40-44 degrees Celsius.
“One summer day, my daughter Sabreen came back from school and started vomiting after which she fell unconscious. Later, she told us that she and many students sit in the open and that there were quite a few cases of children fainting and falling terribly sick,” said Mohammad Naim, a labourer. His two daughters, Sabreen and Aasmeen study in the school. Sabreen is now in Class 7. She has attended classes in the open since Class 6.
The students also said that there are few classes that are locked as they serve as store rooms for the school.
“These locked rooms have lots of garbage, broken desks etc. We have asked teachers to open these rooms. We even volunteered to clean the rooms. But the teachers refuse to listen. In summers, we try to sit under the shade of trees on the ground, but it gets difficult during rain. The students are allowed to take shelter inside the class rooms for some time. With such to and fro, when do we study?” asks Sajid, who attends the afternoon shift. He is now in Class 10 and has spent considerable amount of time sitting in the open.
A few students tried to talk to the principal, but he had no answers. “The principal said I know you people sit out in the open, but nothing can be done right now about it,” said Kajal, a Class 11 student.