Sending wards to government girls senior secondary school at Bilga near Jalandhar in the fond hope that the youngsters would make a mark in life after studying there, parents of these girls might not be knowing that they are instead asked to sweep classrooms in the absence of sweepers.
During a visit to the school, several girl students were found sweeping the premises. Quizzed as to why they were doing the job, the children hesitantly said that the school staff had directed them to do so.
Mamta, a Class VIII student sweeping her classroom with a broom, said that teachers had asked children to clean their respective classrooms. A Class VII student Meena said the school students had been divided into four Houses, with members of each sweeping the school premises as per the schedule prepared by the staff.
"It was the turn of Dr Ambedkar House to sweep on Wednesday; that is why we are doing the work today. Next week, students of Shaheed Bhagat Singh House will do their duty,"she said.
Looking at the chart prepared by school authorities to assign duties to all four Houses, a Class VI student Neelam said they did not feel bad about cleaning the rooms because they did the same at their own homes.
Some school teachers evaded queries on the issue. "We have no other option but to ask children to clean the classrooms. Though one sweeper has been appointed in the school, it is not possible for her to clean the whole premises. So, children are asked to so," remarked a Hindi teacher Sunita. The school has about 450 children on rolls.
On the other hand, school principal Piara Lal said, "No sweeper has been provided to the school by the education department. We have appointed a woman sweeper who is paid collectively by the staff. So, keeping in view the cleanliness of the school, we have formed four Houses which in routine sweep clean the classrooms. This work is not done on a daily basis but once or twice a week."
District education officer Neelam Kumari maintained the matter had come to her notice. "The school can utilise the services of students for cleaning the school premises occasionally, which also inculcates the habit of cleanliness among them. But it is not right to deploy girls daily to clean the classrooms. An inquiry has been initiated into the matter and action will be taken on the basis of the inquiry report."