Briznave Singh is not only the headmaster but also the lone teacher at the government elementary school of Bal Labe Darya village in Ajnala.
A few years ago, the school had strength of 135 students, but the government apathy has taken its toll on education in this border village. Briznave Singh says most of the kids belong to families of labourers, who are uneducated and not too keen to send their wards to school.
The ones who do attend the school are deprived of basic facilities, with the mid-day meal the only attraction for most of them, he says. The school, in fact, has more mid-day meal cooks than teachers.
The headmaster is not only teaching five subjects to 100-odd students who are still enrolled in the school, but also taking care of administrative and clerical works. And he has to do all this in absence of proper infrastructure.
SCHOOL DEPENDS ON VILLAGE FOR AMENITIES
In fact, the school depends on the village for power, water and sanitation. “We are having the electricity sub-meter on the sharing basis with neighbouring villagers. The water tank has also been offered by the villagers, and girl students have to use the toilet at the nearby gurdwara,” says Briznave Singh.
Earlier, there was no drinking water facility, but the headmaster managed to get a few taps installed with the help of villagers. The school building is dilapidated and walls need an urgent whitewash. The children can’t even take part in any sports in the school compound, which lacks flooring and remains waterlogged.
The furniture is either missing or broken, forcing students to sit on the floor in the two classrooms.
DEPARTMENT APATHY IRKS ALL
“It is not that the local education department is not aware about our plight. Officials have visited the school, but there reports have yielded no result,” said the headmaster.
Simran Kaur, who studies in Class 4, says, “We want to want to study, but unfortunately neither our families will support us for long, nor the government has given us the facilities we deserve being daughters of the state.”
Gursharan Singh, a 70-yearold village resident, says the schoolchildren are being neglected because they can come from the section of society that holds no clout during elections. “I have seen in all these years that villages where the ‘vote bank’ is strong, there are as many as half a dozen teachers for just a few kids, but here for 100 students, there is only one teacher.”
Deputy commissioner Varun Roojam told HT as he is new to the district, he is not aware of infrastructural problems being faced by the far-off schools. “The education department should work seriously. I’ll take up the matter with the district education officer on priority,” he says.