On day one of school after the summer vacation, the norms of Right to Education Act, which mandate free and compulsory education to children, were thrown to the wind with students holding brooms instead of books. The poor condition of government primary schools around Lucknow came to light when HT’s team took a round of these institutions.
The attendance was poor in nearly all the schools the team visited. The classrooms were dingy and dark. But the pleasant weather was the silver lining to the cloud. Besides, there wasn’t any demarcation of classes. Students of class 1 were found sitting with the students of class 4 and those of class 2 were sharing the classroom with class 5. Shockingly, dogs had ‘free entry’ into the school premises.
“There are only three classrooms in the school and thus we are bound to do so. Since the number of teachers is also not adequate, such adjustments have to be made,” said a para teacher at a school in Bakshi Ka Talab.
Surprisingly, in April and May the students were made to attend classes sans any books. So in many schools, the exercise of book distribution was carried out on Monday.
Madhuri Srivastava, principal of primary school at Tikri in Bakshi ka Talab, said: “The books have been issued recently and thus we are distributing them to students now. Even now, some books including mathematics and science books for Class 5 were not in stock. So they would be distributed only after we get them.”
While the mid-day meal continues to be a salient feature of primary schools, the students were not served any meal on the first day after vacations. At a primary school in Bahraura in Mal, where nothing seemed OK, a para teacher said, “There isn’t any raw material for cooking in school since it is the first day. The cooking would resume only after students start coming in good numbers.”
Toilets weren’t found in good condition in many schools. At Yakadraiya Kala Primary School in BKT, there wasn’t any toilet on the premises. When asked, the teacher guided the team to a toilet across the road that was locked and was in bad shape.
When contacted, Praveen Mani Tripathi, basic education officer (BSA), Lucknow regretted the poor condition of schools. He said, “Since it was the first day after vacations, the strength of students was poor and the schools were unkempt.” He said the painting work was on in schools.