It is not uncommon that during a storm, some structures suffer extensive damage. So, for example, it is not out of the ordinary if, say, a school in rural India lost its roof during a storm. But what if we told you that one such school never got their roof back even after a decade?
This is the story of the Balkal Asim Government Upper Primary School, and a cruel indictment of the education system in the Garo Hills region of Meghalaya. No wonder, then, that the students celebrated Teachers’ Day under a tarpaulin roof.
Students and teachers sang and danced to celebrate education amid two school buildings on the verge of collapse sans a roof. The celebration showed the extent to which children and teachers have valued education in a region where getting a good education resembles less like a Right and more like a pipedream due to teachers not attending or becoming a nightmare due to non-existent infrastructure.
The school has 75 students and falls under the Mindikgre area of South Garo Hills. It is close to the town of Baghmara.
“I have been sending reminders about the situation not only to the district education department but also to the state government. However, they have not been able to see the suffering of these poor teachers and students. Both buildings are on the verge of collapsing just like the education department in Garo Hills,” asserted social activist Greneth Sangma.
Sangma added that he had spoken to the deputy inspector of schools of South Garo Hills who told him earlier that an estimate had been sent to the education authorities and repair and rebuilding of the school will start soon. However, with more than a decade passing since school fell into such apathy, Greneth said he was not optimistic.
As per sources, there were no initiatives to build the school. The only way to ensure classes were carried on uninterrupted was by covering the roof. As tarpaulin was the best and cheapest option, the same was used.
“It is heartbreaking to see what these children have to brave to get an education and we can only compliment the teachers for their dedication. That is why teachers are so revered,” added Greneth.
What is disturbing is the fact that while Balkal Asim has a problem with infrastructure, there are more than 100 institutes in the district of South Garo Hills, which are running without a teacher according to locals.
This abject situation has been brought about after the present government decided to terminate all contractual teachers leaving many students helpless and without education. Most of these schools fall in the rural belt of the 5 districts of Garo Hills.
The locals said the inspectors of schools for all districts have hardly visited schools to inspect, raising questions about their role.
“I have been a teacher in Jaintia Hills for over 4 years and we had monthly inspections from Inspectors. However after I was transferred to Garo Hills, I have not seen inspections take place at all. This defeats the purpose of their jobs,” said a teacher from North Garo Hills who did not wish to be named.
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