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Uttarakhand question: Where will kids study now?

india Updated: Jul 03, 2013 13:02 IST
Anupam Trivedi
Anupam Trivedi
Hindustan Times
uttarakhand

Schools reopened on July 1 everywhere but not the one where three brothers Manoj (13), Sandeep (11) and Ankit Butola (9) studied in.

Reason: The floods have washed away many schools in Rudraprayag district and their favourite Saraswati Sishu Mandir in Augustmuni was one of them.

Now, what remains there is a swollen Mandakani.

There are 5,000-odd young students like the three in Kedarnath and Yamuna valley who are missing their schools the same way. Many of them won’t ever be able to forget that nature’s fury had left them without a school during their childhood. All they have now is a faint image of the school, the playground, the assembly hall and the staff room in their memory—it is there but not retrievable.

Saraswati Sishu Mandir, managed by the RSS, was once buzzing with 450 students.

From a distance, Manoj tries to figure out where his Class 9 stood, Sandeep his Class 8 and Ankit Class 6.

“I used to play with friends on the school ground and now River Mandakani flows there,” says Manoj and his younger brother Ankit puts a vital question, “But, where will we study now?”

In fact, Ankit’s query sums up the concerns of the parents, the teachers and the school owners who are shocked and depressed as all they have are assurances to share with the children and get from the government.

The Uttarakhand government has declared holiday in schools till July 10. However, what after that remains the big question.

“I am worried about the kids. Roads are in a bad shape, I don’t know where to send kids,” says a distressed father of the three Jeet Pal Singh.

According a rough estimate, over 100 government, private and government-aided schools have been partially and fully damaged in Kedarnath and Yamuna valley which were worst affected by the floods.

“Our preliminary report suggests damage to over 50 government owned schools alone in the disaster-affected areas. We are awaiting a detailed report,” says education minister Mantri Prasad Naithani, assuring makeshift arrangements for the students to continue studies.

“I cannot specify when we will make the arrangement. But, the schools will start at the earliest,” Naithani says. However the parents do not go by the assurance. “I can’t wait for such promises. I have already approached relatives in Rudraprayag and Dehradun so that my two kids could get education over there,” says a parent Bher Singh Negi from Tilwara.
Nonetheless many parents like Negi had deposited fee before the school closed for the summer vacation. But he adds, “The fee does not matter, all that matters is the future of our children”.

Meanwhile, the consortium of the Dehradun-based public schools has announced that they would distribute books free of charge and contribute to reconstruction of school buildings.

“We are ready to help in any form,” says Rajneesh Juyal, principal of Dehradun- based Marshal School.

According a rough estimate, over 100 government, private and government-aided schools have been partially and fully damaged in Kedarnath and Yamuna valley which were worst affected by the floods.

Sources say at least 19 schools run by the Vidya Bharti organization have been completely washed away along with over 40 government schools.

“Playfield and the adjoining areas of the Government Inter College (GIC) Rudraprayag too have been flushed away by the river,” says Vijay Kaparwan, who is involved in the school management.

The government report suggests that the rain has damaged only 53 school buildings in Uttarakhand, of which around 40 are government owned and were being run in Chamoli, Rudraprayag and Uttarkashi.

“This is a preliminary report. We believe that the number of schools damaged in the nonstop rain could be much more,” says education minister Mantri Prasad Naithani, adding the government will make arrangements for the students to help them continue their studies.

Meanwhile, a consortium of the Dehradun-based public schools has announced that it will distribute books free of charge and contribute to reconstruction of schools.

“We are ready to help in any form,” says Rajneesh Juyal, principal of Dehradun-based Marshal School.