The students of Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 8, Chandigarh, are bearing the brunt of an ongoing tussle between the school officials and a local NGO over possession of rooms in the school. School officials accused NGO Vatsal Chaya of unlawfully using their rooms to run its operations. The NGO in its defence stated that they were working for the development of the less-fortunate children and had permission from the administration to use the rooms.
'Need rooms to distribute midday meal'
School's principal Renu Puri claimed that they needed the rooms that were being used by the NGO to facilitate proper distribution of midday meals. She added that they had requested the UT education department and the NGO functionaries to stop the NGO from operating from the school but no action had been taken. "I have been repeatedly urging the department to get the rooms vacated. We are in dire need of a room which can be completely dedicated for serving the midday meals," Puri said.
Midday meal served next to staff toilet
A visit to the school revealed that currently students are being served the midday right next to the staff toilet. The students are forced to eat the meal while sitting next to the toilet which not only violates RTE's guidelines but also poses a threat to their health.
A school teacher requesting anonymity said the NGO had taken control of more than three rooms in the school. Puri alleged that the NGO's head Sangeeta Vardhan was running an Open School and Anganwadi in the school premises which was against the education department's rules.
"The NGO head is not willing to vacate the room and misbehaves with us whenever we approach her. I have even approached the Social Welfare Department against the Anganwadi centre that is being run inside the school but no one has paid any heed to our demands," principal Puri said.
'Working for underprivileged, have permission from UT admn'
Giving her side of the story, Vatsal Chaya's head Sangita Vardhan said the NGO had been conducting classes for the underprivileged children at the school with proper permission from the UT administration.
"The principal and the cluster resource coordinator have been venting out their anger against us because Vatsal Chaya exposed the lapses committed by the school authorities," Vardhan said.
She accused the school officials of deliberately delaying child entitlements and preventing immediate admission of out of school children which was against the Right to Education's (RTE) norms.
Stating that her NGO was working towards the development of the underprivileged children, Vardhan said that they were following RTE's norms and had not committed any violation. "We are helping children especially the ones who cannot gain access to schools. We have been following the rules as per RTE and have not violated any norm," she said.
'Principal insensitive towards children'
Hurling accusation back at Puri, Vardhan said the principal was inconsiderate towards the children. "At one time when our buses dropped the children at the school, they were made to line up for interrogation. Children from the regular school who take our help in remedial studies, e-learning and co- curricular activities are threatened that their marks will be cut and they will be thrown out of the school," Puri said.
Defending herself against Vardhan's claims, Puri said she had not punished any child but since the students belonged to the primary section, which is run in the evening shift, she stopped them to ask why they had come to the school in morning.
Director of public instructions (DPI) (Schools) Kamlesh Kumar said the department was concerned about the ongoing conflict between the NGO and the school officials. "Deputy district education officials were sent to the school immediately after we received a complaint from Vardhan. Appropriate action would be taken after carrying out probes," he said.