In the age of air-conditioned classrooms, over 1.5 lakh students in over 400 basic education and Sarv Shiksha Abhiyaan (SSA) schools in Ghaziabad are learning their lessons with not even a fan to comfort them from the heat.
These schools don’t have electricity.
The SSA is the central government’s flagship education programme initiated to ensure that all children go to school.
In order to ensure enough funds, the government charges a two per cent education cess from taxpayers and has also allocated Rs 7,694 crore for the scheme in the 2009-10 budget.
But there is no sign of the government’s bounty in Ghaziabad.
Students grope for words in their textbooks in dim light, sometimes forcing teachers to teach them out in the open.
“We open the windows and doors to let light in,” said Abid Chaudhary, a student at one such school in Usmangarhi, Dasna. “Sometimes, when the light is poor, we sit in the open.”
The teachers have continued with the education programme hoping the infrastructure will improve soon.
“Electricity is a basic requirement. We have told officials about it and they have promised that something will be done soon,” a teacher said on conditions of anonymity.
As per statistics provided by the department, the enrolment in primary and upper-primary schools has dropped by over 13,000 students in 2008-09 when compared with 2007-08 figures.
District Basic Education Officer Rajesh Srivaas said there were 1,218 schools under SSA and Basic Education in Ghaziabad. But funds have been provided to only 796 of them.
“The funds were provided by the state government to 796 schools where more than 100 students are enrolled and are identified under the Ambedkar-grams,” Srivaas said.
“Each of these schools now has a fan and a tube-light. We are hoping to get more funds for the remaining schools.”
In many schools, there has been no change in infrastructure since Independence and they were lucky to get funds only two years ago, sources said.