The ground reality is right here. A recent visit to an M.C.D school in New Seemapuri, Shahadra North zone, revealed a heart rending truth. We entered the school expecting to see our country’s future hard at work, battling its innocent wits with the formidable magnitude of knowledge set to be achieved. But what we actually saw was far from what this institution was set up to accomplish.
At a modest budget of rupees 1.1 crores; a new building was set up in 2007-08, to become a fully functional institute of learning. This building was complete with class rooms, toilet for students, provision for drinking water and a table tennis room. While all of these facilities still exist, none of them are available or of use to the students.
Condition of toilets: The only existing toilet for the students is always locked, leaving the students with no choice except to relieve themselves in the unlikeliest of places. The very class rooms for study, the temples of knowledge, have turned into lavatories. The marks on the wall and pools of urine on the floor are a ghastly reality check of the inconvenience faced by the little children.
Drinking water facilities: In the hottest of summer days, the children have no way to satisfy their thirst since drinking water is not accessible. Due to the fear of taps being stolen, the staff has permanently sealed the room with provision of drinking water. Moreover, they have removed the taps and inserted wooden planks instead, to completely do away with the water supply. As a result, any child who requires water has to go home to satiate his need, only to suit the teacher’s objectives very well, as no child usually returns home once he’s gone home.
Lack of interest from teachers: During full school hours, we were greeted by children of the school in the play ground. The only problem was that it was not their P.T. period, and there was not a single teacher in sight to supervise their activities. This gathering of students outside the classes was a result of absence of teachers from the classroom during regular class periods. A dearth of teachers results in none of the scheduled classes being held. The school has 25 class rooms with a minimum of 70-80 students in each class (a total of about 1,800 children in the schools), whereas there are only 13–14 teachers for the entire school. These teachers seem to give more importance in amassing knowledge themselves, and can be often found preparing for courses they have enrolled for or reading other entertainment material. When questioned, they have lost interest in teaching as the number of children per class is too much for them to indulge in any effective knowledge sharing.
Illegal activities in the old building: The old building that exists still is being judiciously used by the illegal miscreants, who can slip in and out of the school complex unnoticed and unchecked. Using the vacant class rooms as their base, they shamelessly indulge in gambling, drug, tobacco and alcohol abuse, and other activities which the children of the school, at their tender age, should not be exposed to. You can see bunches of people, some students as well, huddled together engrossed in a game of cards, underage smoking and drug abuse. This building has turned into a public urinal of sorts and the marks on the walls relay this fact. Just about a month ago, a dead body was discovered in the toilet block of this old building. The death was attributed to consumption of SMACK. Such instances further add to the grim environment at school. Some parts of the block have been demolished since then, but are still home to the above activities.
Unsafe conditions at the new building: The new building sure seems to offer a better environment for education as compared to the old one. But the insides tell a different story altogether. The unhygienic conditions created by helpless students urinating in the classrooms are sure shot sources of diseases. Other unsafe factors too endanger the lives of the students. Naked wires hanging along the stairs and protruding through the walls is a hazard in itself. There is high possibility of unsuspecting students to touch the wires and get electrocuted.
Irresponsible behavior on the part of the Headmaster: If the absence of safety, law, order, discipline and education on the whole wasn’t enough, the head master has been adding to the woes of expectant parents by refusing admission to their wards. The head master of the school retired on April 30, 2008. Since his retirement was on the anvil, he refused to grant admissions to the students for the new term and has deferred all cases to the time the new head master comes in. This claim is supported by the fact that there has not been a single student admitted into classes 2nd to the 5th since the beginning of this term.
The story above is of a single MCD school visited. There will be hundreds of more that have escaped any such notice. Our efforts have always been and will be in the direction of helping people with their rights, helping people claim what has been promised to them and helping people to fight for what their deserve. The intention is to give them access to provisions that would make a better tomorrow and not to encourage them to make unreasonable demands. Our dilemma lies in the situation where the supplier promises but fails to deliver. It is the promise that sets us to work. Very simply put, if there were no such promises, these would be mere content people and if promises existed but no consequent breaches, organizations like ours would have no business. But we alone, although strong enough, are not sufficient to fulfill this objective. The support of the government inevitable. We would request you to come forward support our endeavor to make it better tomorrow.
Note: This report was presented to the Department of Education and appropriate action has been initiated on this front.