On paper, the list of facilities that a school should have is long – though not fancy. But on the ground, most of the government-run institutions in Delhi lack the very basic of them.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi allocated Rs 10,690 crore , 23% of the total allocation, for education in its last budget. However, crammed classrooms, rugs filling in for desks, leaky roofs, stinking toilets, missing libraries and absence of clean drinking water in several government schools show that the goal of reforming school education in Delhi is not easy to achieve.
In 15 schools that HT visited , basic amenities were missing . Broken glass panes, plaster coming off the walls, leaky roofs and missing desks were some of the common problems.
A school in northeast Delhi’s Sonia Vihar holds classes in corridors. In an approximately 20 X 20 feet room, more than 150 students sit together. In some classrooms, two different classes were being held together. Some fans were broken and some were not working.
Data provided by the Delhi government’s directorate of education (DoE) shows that 47 schools of the total 1011 in Delhi have more than 3,000 students.
There were no desk or chairs in four schools in Molarbandh in south Delhi. In a school in Narela, there is no water or electricity connection.
Activists working in the field of education estimate that a mere 5% of the government schools in Delhi fulfil the infrastructure requirements as mandated by the Right To Education law.
“When students don’t have a proper place to sit, you cannot expect quality education,” said Aakanksha Gulati, City Director, Teach for India.
School principals said their requests for necessary repairs and new material take a long time to be approved.
RP Meena, principal, Sarvodaya Bal Vidyalaya No. 2 in Molarbandh said, “It took me two years to get electricity meters fixed in the school.”
A teacher at Sarvodaya Bal Vidyalaya in West Patel Nagar showed documents to prove that requests to get windows, desks and chairs repaired are pending for the last two years.
Watch | In this Delhi school, students take turns to sit on chairs
The government records show over 1,000 pending requests for repair and maintenance work in various schools. For every infrastructure requirement, the school writes to the education department and the request is then forwarded to the Public Works Department (PWD).
Officials acknowledged poor infrastructure in schools and said the process to repair and improve has begun. They said to address the problem of overcrowding, 8,000 new classrooms and 21 new schools are being built.
But to create space for classrooms, the government is taking up playing space in some schools.
Atishi Marlena, advisor to the Delhi education minister Manish Sisodia, said, “Land is scarce in Delhi. There are some schools where no new rooms can be built, so we conducted a survey and found schools nearby where new rooms can be built. We are trying to get buses for students so those living nearby should have no problem in shifting to other schools.”
Marlena admitted that for PWD, the government’s building agency, has little time for schools as roads and flyovers were “priorities”.
She said the Aam Aadmi Party government has restructured PWD and created separate units for school and hospital maintenance.
“In order to cut the red tape, the Delhi Cabinet has also approved a plan to set up a call centre where schools can register their infrastructure requirements,” she said. The education minister has also announced Rs 700 crore to revamp infrastructure in Delhi government schools.
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