Finding a roof, not education the concern

  • Vivek Gupta, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: May 13, 2014 13:46 IST

Along with his three daughters, Triveni is busy collecting bricks of his demolished house in Mazdoor Colony in Sector 52.

His children have not attended the nearby government high school, Sector 52, for the last five days now. And as he is finding it hard to re-settle in the nearby area, he has no idea whether his kids will be able to continue in the same school.

“Only thing I am concerned at present is finding a roof for my family even if it comes at the cost of my children’s school,” said Triveni, reflecting upon the concer ns of hundreds of such parents, who are literally in a fix about their resettlement issue after the demolition drive in Sector 52, which uprooted more than 1,500 families, living in Mazdoor Colony, Nehru Colony, Pandit Colony and Kuldeep Colony.

Amid all this, however, the education prospects of a large number of children seem to be the biggest casualty as their resettlement is taking them to far-off places like Jagatpura and Kundali village (SAS Nagar) and other areas, forcing them to leave behind the present schooling of their children.

“What can we do now,” asks a helpless Nand Ram, father of two.

Earning Rs 6,000 per month, he said after the demolition, the rents have shot up in the entire neighbourhood. “Not in a position to afford it, I have no option but to settle elsewhere and find a new school for my kids,” he added.

Another parent, Mahesh, rued that enrolling the children again, when the admission process is already over, seemed be an uphill task now. Some of his acquaintances have shifted to Jagatpura even before the demolition. They applied for admission to a government school near that area, but they were sent back on the ground that there was no seat left.

“I am already worried whether my kids will get re-admission in other areas if they fail to continue in the same school,” said a parent of four children.

As found by HT, absenteeism is running high in three government schools around the demolition site.

More than 35% students were absent in Gover nment High School, Sector 53, on Monday. Its principal Raj Bala said several parents of demolished Nehru Colony assured them to send their kids back in few days but she asserted that tracking students, whose parents have left this area, would be a challenging task since there is no information where the uprooted homeless families are settling down.

Surprisingly, more than 50% of the students we r e absent in the morning shift of Government High School, Sector 52, that has a strength of 1,200 students.

The school head Madhu Bala said actually the decrease would be known in a few days when all the uprooted families would settle down.

She was, however, confident that all these children would come back. Sunita Kandwal of Gover nment High School, Kejhri , said the s chool had 15-20 % children from these demolished colonies and most of them were absent on Monday.

Standing confused in front of the school, where his nine-yearold son studies in Class 4, a parent, Bunti, said the family was shifting to Mohali and he had no idea how he would make his son continue in the existing school.

In tears, Sarita said, “We have not yet found a place to settle down. I don’t know where my children will study now.”

Many NGOs have demanded the education department to provide admission to students uprooted from here in other schools.

Anuradha Sharma , wh o runs an NGO, Hamari Kaksha, in Chandigarh, said the education department should immediately enrol NGOs to help those rendered homeless since there was a high chance of dropouts among those children.

“Society must also come forward and adopt these poor children,” she said.

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