HT SPOTLIGHT Chakbala elementary school witnessing decline in strength

  • Usmeet Kaur, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Jul 22, 2016 15:59 IST
Students of Government Elementary School at Chakbala village in Amritsar district sitting on the floor due to lack of furniture. (Gurpreet Singh/HT Photo)

Angrej Singh, a class five student of Elementary School at Chakbala, here, dreams of becoming a doctor and serve the society and families affected due to excessive consumption of alcohol and drugs in this region; but then it seems to be a distant dream for him.

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Many kids like Angrej have big dreams in this school, but the lack of even the basic facilities here may hamper their aspirations. This was discovered when the HT team visited Chakbala village in Ajnala belt, which is around 1 km away from the international border.

Students passing from waterlogged path in front of the main gate after school hours. (Gurpreet Singh/HT)

The so called Elementary School is in such a miserable condition that one would cross it numerous times but will fail to figure it out as neither there is a board depicting its name on the gate, nor the name of the school drafted on the boundary wall is visible clearly. Only the local people can guide one to the location.

Adding to the woes, the rainy season has made the situation even worse for the students as because of extensive waterlogging in and outside the school one can see young girls trying to find their broken slippers desperately in the mud, ending up staining their uniforms.

Eight-year-old Divya and nine-year-old Simran want to be established dancers, but lack of facilities and backing from their families and school is not helping their cause. “We are from poor families and affording a pair of slippers is also tough for us. Our parents work very hard to fetch us food. Thus unlike other kids along with our studies we do have to help them in household jobs as well. Above it, we lack the backing for our dreams by our parents as well as school authorities.”

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“We also do not have specialised teachers. How can we become good dancers if we do not have a teacher to train us,” shared the duo.

Teacher speak

The school currently has 79 students, out of which 44 are boys and 35 are girls. However, the head teacher Harpal Singh informed that the strength has been declining every year.

“A few years back the number touched 105. Last year, the number declined to 92 and this year it is just 79. There are several reasons behind this and one is the background many these students come from. For the kids coming from drug and alcohol affected families education is not the priority. Then for teaching five subjects there are just two teachers and everyone feel that’s it’s we who are not able to justify our jobs. We are trying our best and looking after academics and clerical works too. Lastly, it is the level of syllabus with which they are unable to cope up and eventually leave,” says Harpal Singh, who is also the officiating head, as the head master post is lying vacant.

Student speak

Majority students out rightly criticised the syllabus and stated it to be tough.

“Our syllabus is above our level. It should be simplified a bit so that we can understand it better. We just can’t understand the English subject being taught to us. The school also needs a specialised English teacher who can speak the language fluently and help us in attaining the same,” shares Balyam Massi, a class five student, who has lost his father and aims to settle abroad.

Officials speak

“I do make monthly visits to different schools in different blocks and villages. The Deputy DEO also does the same. We make at least 10 visits each. We are aware about the problems faced by the border schools. The issues concerning them have been reported to education minister Daljit Singh Cheema. He has assured that recruitment of teachers in the border schools will be done soon. Infrastructure and funds for facilities are not given to us. Thus for this we can only try at our own level or there are NGO’s who have been contributing by putting RO’s for clean water and have provided furniture too,” said Jugraj Singh Randhawa, DEO (Elementary).

“I assure to make a file and report it to Amritsar DC Varun Roojam so that he can take up the matter with the higher education authorities concerned. Our efforts will definitely help the kids in getting quality education.”

Meanwhile, DC Varun Roojam said, “DEO elementary can tell me about the prevalent situation and needs of the children. Furniture and other basic facilities can be arranged for these schools.”

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