With no janitors, students become sweepers in schools

Students and teachers in hundreds of government primary schools across the State have been forced to clean the school buildings and even toilets. For, these schools do not have housekeeping staff. 

F C Chegaraddi, a teacher at the government primary school in Belavanki, Gadag, along with a few of his colleagues, regularly supervises a group of students who undertake cleaning activities.

“There are two to three children who clean the classrooms and if required, even the playground and toilets. Sometimes, teachers also help them. A number of parents have been frequently opposing their children undertaking such work. We keep convincing them that we don’t have a choice,” said Chegaraddi. The school has 126 students and six teachers, but no housekeeping staff. “Although the situation is manageable, we definitely require a helper for tasks like watering, which children cannot do.”

The students, on an average, spend half-an-hour to one hour cleaning, say teachers. This, to an extent, comes in the way of their studies.

“Teachers and students end up spending more time in cleaning activities,” said Lingaraju Ramapura, a primary schoolteacher in Hubli. The government has not sanctioned the post of helper in government primary schools, though there are provisions to hire at least one such worker in high schools. The matter was brought up by the head master of a government primary school in the City at the recently held RTE public hearing. 
K Anand, director, primary education, Department of Public Instruction, expressed helplessness. “The government has to maintain a number of schools and we cannot satisfy everyone’s needs. The schools can make other arrangements like hiring servants,” he said.

Says S Kaladhar, a teacher at a primary school in Kannamangala, Chikkaballapur, “We were supposed to receive around Rs 3,500 for the school’s maintenance last year. However, the amount has not come. We sometimes hire an anganwadi ayah when work is more. Most of the time, it is the students who do the work,” he said.

A S Seetharamu, a school education expert and a former professor of education at the Institute for Social and Economic Change, believes that the maintenance of schools is the prerogative of the teachers, students and the community at large.

“If there is lack of teachers and classrooms, we definitely should complain to the government. The government is responsible for the assets in a school. However, matters of cleanliness and maintenance in schools are up to the community. There is only so much that the government can do,” said Seetharamu.     

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