Teachers and students in more than 1,100 villages in flood-hit Bahraich, Balrampur, Shravasti and Lakhimpur Kheri districts of Uttar Pradesh have come together for a cause — to dry their books, stationery, blackboards and benches dampened by floodwaters.
Anxious parents, keen that their children resume studies at the earliest, have pitched in.
Flood-affected locals feel the schools might take a month or longer to reopen unless the government takes up restoration work on a war footing. Ironically, schools likely to recover faster would be those with the least infrastructure — like Mamta Rani Secondary School in Mihipurwa, which only had benches and blackboards in the door-less, three-walled classrooms.
The wet benches have already been put out in the sun to dry.
“The water level here was luckily not as high as some other schools, or else these benches would have been washed away. They kept floating within the school premises and found ground once the water receded. We will clean the slush but it would take at least a fortnight to resume classes,” a school employee said.
Some schools were not as lucky. They include Anmol Montessori School in Bahraich district. “Ours is a private minority school. We lost 400 benches, books, blackboards and documents in the flow when flood breached a backyard wall on August 15,” principal Barqaat Ahmed, 32, said.
But one primary school – in Peepri village under Baoundi police station – is still in mourning for two of its students to think about salvaging furniture and stationery. Deoki and his sister Saloni were washed away from outside their hut in the village. Upon reopening, the school will remain shut for another day in their remembrance.