Primary schools in Uttar Pradesh’s capital Lucknow have failed to provide even the basic facilities to their students, who have to negotiate through ankle-deep slush to reach their school, relieve themselves in the open and sit in classes without fans.
For students in Ganga Deo Kheda under Sarojini Nagar block, the situation turns worse during monsoons when they have to walk through knee-deep water to cross the open field leading to their school.
“There is no approach road to our school. Every day we have to go through this dirty drill to cross the open field which is filled with slush. There is no arrangement of water in our school so that we can wash our dirty feet. We have to sit in our class with feet soaked in mud,” Ankush, a Class 3 student, said.
“Some girls have even slipped in the past and had to return home,” the child added.
Their teacher, Vimlesh Kumar, is helpless.
“What can I do? I really feel sorry for children who take a risk to reach their school. For students of Class 1 and 2, it is even more difficult. We really don’t know how to address the problem,” Kumar, who is the only teacher for 37 students at the school, said.
The situation is no better at the primary school in Makka Khera in the same block.
“There is no electricity in our school despite the fact that there is a transformer barely a few metres away. We had to sweat it out during the summer,” Gulshan Pal, a Class 4 student, said.
While there are a number of girls studying in the school, the condition of toilets remains poor. One of the key recommendations of Right to Education includes building infrastructures such as separate toilets for girls and boys and transportation facilities for improving retention of girls in schools.
Despite the 19,627 new toilets built under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet Swachh Bharat Mission, locals said that the dropout rate of girl students was increasing as schools do not have proper toilets for them.
“There is no boundary wall in the school. As a result, a number of anti-social elements use the open space for all the wrong things after school hours,” Vimal Kumar, a teacher, said.
At the primary school in Gehru, the existing toilets are kept locked and students have to relieve themselves in the open.
Basic shiksha adhikari (Lucknow) Praveen Mani Tripathi, however, said that by and large every government primary school in the district has at least one toilet. “Maintenance of some of the toilets may be an issue in some schools,” he said.
The state government has allocated Rs 20 crore for improving infrastructure in primary schools but the situation in government schools either forces children to drop out or seek admission in private institutes that in many cases are no better.
According to District Information System for Education, 53% children in UP now go to private schools.
“In fact, government schools are no longer the largest service provider in education,” RTE crusader Samina Bano said. “Private schools are flourishing due to inadequacies in the government school system. We need educational reforms,” she added.
Vimlesh Kumar of Ganga Deo Kheda primary school said everybody can see the condition of infrastructure in government schools.
“As a teacher, we are doing our duties by taking classes in whatever limited resources was made available to us.”