At Navodayas, parents tidy up school as wards attend class

Understaffed institution's call for voluntary service irks guardians

In one corner, parents are overseeing the disposal of garbage lying outside the kitchen.

A few feet away, children sit attentively in their classrooms. No, this is not a home school where learning and household chores go hand in hand.

This is the Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya or JNV (the special school established by the Union government for talented children) at Bagalur. The school, facing severe staff crunch, has asked parents to pay a visit every month and help in the maintenance.

While it might sound bizarre for some people, for parents whose children study at the JNV, this is somewhat routine business. Something that they are quite accustomed to.

The JNV has a provision for the parents teachers council (PTC), under which parents can volunteer for school work and make suggestions on upkeep. Parents, however, are questioning the extent of the voluntary service.

“We have to do this as the school says it is short of funds. We just want our children to study in good conditions,” said Byregowda M, a parent whose two children are enrolled in class 12 and 9 respectively.

Anila D, whose child is in class 8, regularly hires workers to clean the dormitory of the girls’ hostel.

“There is a serious shortage of workers in the school. Our numerous letters to the higher-ups have not elicited any response,” she said.

When Deccan Herald visited the school, a few parents were overseeing the garbage disposal outside the school kitchen for several days. The garbage vehicle was sponsored by one parent whereas another had hired the workers.

Parents have joined hands and formed a committee to manage the day-to-day needs of the school. The principal and many teachers regularly meet, as part of the PTC to decide on the work.

Members of the parents’ committee claim to have partially funded a number of activities such as digging of a borewell, maintenance of the school garden, cleaning and housekeeping, etc.

“There was scarcity of water in the school and we approached the Zilla Panchayat for digging the borewell. But it said the work would take at least three months. We could not wait and hence paid from our own pocket,” Byregowda recalled.

The school principal, Venkateswaran, said he could not help the matters. “The government has not arranged for the school’s upkeep. The school has just four regular staff members and sometimes only three would be at work,” he told this newspaper.

“We are forced to seek parents’ help. In any case, under the rules of the Navodayas, students are supposed to keep their surroundings clean. Parents use the excuse to meet their children.”

No doubt, the services rendered by parents are voluntary but they have little choice as they cannot afford to see their children study in deplorable conditions.

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