Free education, mid-day meal, monthly stipend — give them anything, children won’t come to Bhalipur’s government primary school in this district. Its ‘one student, one-teacher’ ratio is least attractive.
The children will rather travel 4 kilometres to expensive private schools. The only primary school of the village is left with only one student this session. On Tuesday, even its only student, Jagdeep Singh of Class 5, was absent. The classroom was filled with bags of grain, rice, and other mid-day meal provisions, besides six empty benches and three chairs.
The school’s only teacher, Kamaljeet Singh, posted here on deputation two years ago, is forced to run an awareness-and-publicity campaign to attract students. Even that hasn’t convinced the parents of village children. The cost of keeping that one student is Rs 50,000, of which the teacher takes Rs 40,000, the cleaner Rs 2,000, and a cook Rs 1,200 a month.
After losing its electricity supply over pending bills, the school now runs on ‘kundi’ (tapped) connection. There has been no new admission for the past four years. In the year 2014-15, it had three students in Class 5, which came to two last session. “With sarpanch, I went to every house, begged parents to send their children to school,” said the teacher, adding: “I told them it cost more than `50,000 a year to put a child in a private school, while in a government school, they had to pay nothing. Still they were not convinced.”
The district education department has not put up the school for merger into the nearest middle school, even though members of the staff have made a written request for it. District education officer (primary) Gurcharan Singh Multani could not be contacted, in spite of repeated attempts, while Kapurthala deputy commissioner (DC) Jaskiran Singh said he would check up with the education department.