Ghaziabad govt school students brave cold mornings due to delay in sweater distribution
80,175 primary school students are awaiting sweaters in the peak winter, as the mercury dipped to 8 degrees Celsius on Wednesday. The previous deadline for distribution of sweaters was December 23.noida Updated: Dec 28, 2017 18:37 IST
Mehkashan, a class 1 student, stands in a queue at her primary school in Islam Nagar where she is to receive a pair of shoes and socks, which were announced as part of the uniform to be provided by the UP state government. The stock of shoes reached the school and was distributed to 610 students enrolled in the school.
She arrived wearing her old torn and cracked shoes from whose openings her swollen and cracked fingers were visible as the child suffered from chilblains. She repeatedly asked her teachers about the sweaters as she had none. She is one of the three siblings and the family is dependent on earnings of her father, who is a vegetable vendor.
“I don’t have a sweater. Meri mummy ke paas kharidne ke paise nahi rehte hain.... (My mother doesn’t have money to buy one). We have only one half-sweater for three of us (siblings),” she said.
Another student Neha Irfan, of class 2, said that her father’s work is not going well and the family could not purchase sweaters for her and her sister, Raunaq.
“My shoes got torn but I did not say anything to my parents. Only my brothers Arman and Suhail have a blue sweater each. My father purchased these sweaters along with school uniform. Us two sisters have none,” she said.
Kehkashan, Neha and Raunaq are among 80,175 primary school students who are awaiting sweaters in the peak winter, as the mercury dipped to 8 degrees Celsius on Wednesday. The previous deadline for distribution of sweaters was December 23. Prior to this, officials said that the sweaters were to be distributed in November but the tenders were delayed as the election code of conduct for the local body polls was in force.
“We estimate that nearly 6.5 lakh students in Meerut region are yet to get sweaters. Sweaters have been distributed in some areas but these are by NGOs. However, I will not be able to comment on the sweaters which were announced by the government. There have been some procedural delays,” Ashok Kumar Singh, assistant director (basic education ), Meerut region, said.
Meerut region comprises six districts — Ghaziabad, Gautam Budh Nagar, Bulandshahr, Hapur and Meerut.
“Distribution of shoes has already begun. The shoes and sweaters are being distributed for the first time. The previous government had announced the distribution of bags but it got delayed due to assembly elections. The school bags have already been given to students by the present government,” he said.
Officials said that the tenders for sweaters have been floated but the procurement and distribution can take up to the first week of January 2018.
Teachers of government schools are also pained by the delay in distribution of sweaters.
“These children come from a poor economic background. Some parents buy sweaters but a majority cannot afford to. They attend school wearing shirts or some other fancy sweaters available at home. Some NGOs also distribute woollens but all children cannot get one,” Mohammad Iqbal, headmaster of the Islam Nagar primary school, said.
“The children were happy in getting new shoes but some of them returned in dismay as they could not get a shoe that could fit them,” he said.
At the primary school in neighbouring Bonjha, students were rejoicing with their new shoes which were distributed on Wednesday.
“An NGO arrived to give them woollen clothes but these could be given only to children who have been studying for years. The newly admitted ones are solely dependent on sweaters announced by the government. These are yet to be distributed,” Kamlesh Devi, headmistress of the school, said.
However, Ghaziabad basic education officer Vinay Kumar said that he has taken personal efforts and got some sweaters distributed in schools.
“The students who have stood first, second and third in their half-yearly examinations have been provided sweaters by NGOs. Others will get when the procurement is done,” he said.