Miles to go before govt schools get their act together in capital

Sarvodaya Vidyalayas, Govt Senior Secondary Schools are not at par with private schools

Students of Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya, Burari in north Delhi have been attending classes only on alternate days for over a year now as there are not enough rooms to accommodate the total strength of 1,332 girls.

The main building of the school was declared “dangerous” by the Public Works Department (PWD) in July, 2014, after which all the classes were shifted to the 26 newly built rooms. However, they are not enough for all sections of classes 1-12 on any given day.

“After the building was declared dangerous for students, we had given a proposal to shift them to another school. But the parents didn’t want their children to go to a faraway school. So we had no other option but to call students from different classes on alternate days,” says a teacher.

The government on Thursday finally decided to build 60 new classrooms on the premises, after which the old building which was declared dangerous will be demolished.

There are many such schools which are conducting classes in tin sheds, waiting for their old buildings to be demolished.

In one school, children from at least six sections have to attend classes in tin sheds, even as they wait for new rooms to be built.

“The order for a part of the old building to be demolished has already been given by the higher authorities but we have no idea when the work will start,” says a teacher at the Government Boys Senior Secondary School (GBSSS) in west Delhi’s Raghubir Nagar.

“We can’t even carry out any major repair work in those tin sheds as orders have been given to demolish them,” he says.

Amid the ongoing syllabus-cut debate, the Delhi government schools are in dire need of an upgrade in infrastructure and demand education department’s undivided attention. Despite being in the national capital, many government schools lack basic infrastructure. Classrooms in tin sheds, electricity problems, shortage of teachers and other staff are some of the persisting problems. The government’s promise of giving “world class” education falls flat.

According to the government’s own survey in June, almost 720 of the 1,000-odd government schools in the capital lacked clean drinking water and toilet facilities.

Though there are Sarvodaya Vidyalayas and Government Senior Secondary schools functioning in all the districts, most of them are a fry car from coming at par with the private schools. Some blame the delay in upgrading infrastructure on the “bureaucracy” and multiplicity of agencies involved.

“We wanted 15 new classrooms and the file was at the last stage of getting cleared. But when the Aam Aadmi Party government came, they asked for a new file. The whole process has been started from the scratch, with a new team been given the charge of conducting a survey,” says a school official at GBSSS in Patel Nagar.

The building from which the school operates is a semi ‘pucca’ structure and was built in 1951. The school had asked for a multistoried building under which 15 new rooms were to be constructed.

“Even for normal repair work, we have to contact so many agencies like the PWD, MCD, etc. Teachers are here to be with the students and not do this. A lot of time is wasted in dealing with so many departments. Sometimes, we don’t get the desired response. We want the government to appoint one caretaker for every school only for this purpose who will act as a mediator between the agencies and us,” says a teacher at a government girl’s school in Khyala.

Others complain of lack of basic amenities like desks and school labs. GBSSS, Patel Nagar has a semi-equipped science lab and no Math labs and Social Science labs.

The school authorities have written several letters to the government for the labs. The old computers in the school were weeded out last year and since then the new lab has not been established. Even the two television sets that the school got from the government for a CAL (computer aided learning) lab have been set up in the library as there is no such lab.

Insufficient funds for sanitation and security is another area the schools want the government to address.

“We get around 14,000 per month for sanitation. The school has nine toilets and two are under construction. With that amount, we can only engage two persons to clean the whole school because the cleaning material is also purchased from that amount,” says an official at a school in east Delhi.

The school also has a low student-teacher ratio and has requested the government to provide more teachers.

“Besides teaching, the government teachers are also given other work such as deputing them for six hours during the NPR (National Population Register) census. This should be stopped and the teachers’ only focus should be on imparting education,” says C P Singh, president of Government Teachers’ Association.

Another teacher complains, “We have two gates but there is only one security guard at any point of time.” In most schools the second gate was built after the government instructed them to do so under fire safety norms. However, they have only two or three guards who come in shifts to man only one gate.

“The government encourages us to write to them if we need anything, but nothing happens at the grass roots. They are conducting so many inspections and suspending people, but I don’t see any results,” he says, referring to Education Minister and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia’s recent surprise inspection at a school in northwest Delhi, during which he suspended two officials and terminated the principal citing “dismal” condition of the school.

The teachers also slam the ‘no detention policy’ till class 8 and blamed it for the poor performance of students.

“The child knows that no matter what, he will be promoted to the next class. They pass but don’t know how to frame sentences and how to do simple arithmetic. Most of the schools want it to be revoked to develop a sense of competition among students,” says a teacher in GBSSS in Raghubir Nagar.

However, some credit the Delhi government with the “small” improvements made during its short stint.

“One thing which has improved after this government came to power is the timely distribution of books and uniforms. The session starts in April and we used to get books in July. But this year we got the supply in advance,” says an official at a west Delhi school.

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