A tale of two constants: Crumbling classrooms & Karnataka govt’s miserly mindset

Kids on the edge
Last Updated 16 May 2022, 20:15 IST

Children are back in school for the new academic year.

But beyond the opening day’s excitement, nothing is hunky-dory in the temples of knowledge in many districts.

The sword of Damocles seems to hang over the students’ heads, given the dilapidated classroom walls and roofs.

As many as 457 classrooms in government primary and high schools in Belagavi educational district and 959 in Chikkodi educational district are in a precarious condition, risking students’ lives.

The repair work of classrooms Children is back in school for the new academic year. should have been completed by now in Belagavi as the district is already receiving pre-monsoon rains. The roofs leak even with a drizzle.

Parents have expressed concern about the safety of their wards. But officials and elected representatives remain unfazed. Measures have not been taken to repair or demolish fragile structures.

Officials from the department of public instruction rue that the lack of funds is a major hurdle in undertaking repairs.

Some classrooms have no roofs, floors are damaged, walls are fragile and doors and windows have gone missing.

No repair work has been undertaken for six years now at the 95-year-old girls’ school at Yamakanamaradi in Hukkeri. Two students died in 2016 in a wall collapse on the school premises.

On Monday, students attended classes in tents put up by residents at Mudnur in Ramdurg taluk.

The department of education has submitted to the government a list of 62 schools needing urgent repair in the Dakshina Kannada district at an estimated cost of Rs 1.75 crore.

DDPI Sudhakar told DH that headteachers had been strictly told not to use dilapidated classrooms.

Cracks on the walls greet students in the four classrooms at the government higher primary school in Bhaktakodi, Puttur taluk.

“Every year estimates are prepared, but funds are never released. Why can’t the government release funds directly to the SDMCs for repair works?” said SDMC Samanvaya Vedike president Moideen Kutti.

Rainwater enters the government high school in Bengre, which is close to the coast, through broken windows.

“We appealed to the MLA, MP to release grants for the repair of 11 windows. This year, we the SDMC members have pooled in money to install a few metal windows so that they last long,” SDMC member Abdul Toyyub said.

A teacher from a government school in Davangere said though officials submit the list of schools to the government seeking grants for repair, renovation or construction of classrooms every year, the amount released is always inadequate.

Many times, schools badly in need of grants for repair works don’t get any aid and the same goes to schools that are in good condition due to the clout of local politicians.

Shivamogga DDPI N Ramesh said schools in Malnad region face water leakage issues regularly as the region receives heavy rainfall.

“We will recommend to the government to construct buildings with sloping roofs, so that water flows down easily,” he said.

Several government schools in the undivided Dharwad district, also comprising Haveri and Gadag districts, are in a poor condition.

According to officials, 360 classrooms in 151 schools are in poor condition in Dharwad district.

Parents said parts of the classroom roofs have collapsed and huge cracks have appeared on the walls. Some classrooms have to be demolished and reconstructed, officials said.

Government schools in Gadag too are no different. Those that have completed 100 years have seen some development works in the last couple of years, but over 800 classrooms cry for major repairs.

Each year, the government has been releasing only 50% to 60% of the funds sought, say officials in Dharwad.

The government should amend the norms for the utilisation of MLAs’ local area development funds, so that 25% of the amount is set aside for school development, said Shashidhar Dindalkopp, a resident of Kalghatgi.

(With inputs from Naina J A in Mangaluru, Nrupathunga S K in Davangere, Raju Gavali in Belagavi, R Shrinidhi in Dharwad)

(Published 16 May 2022, 17:08 IST)

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