The very concept of school stands defeated when we learn that the school doesn’t have its own accommodation and is run in a rented house. A school does not mean only the students, teachers and their lessons. No, that is not a school. A school is a day-home for the inmates comprising students, teachers, associated staff and even the guardsmen who are deployed on duty to protect this important public property. A school means independent structure with adequate accommodation for the students, teachers, staff and visitors. A school has no meaning if it has not a play ground, parking space and toilet for males and females.
The Education Minister replying to questions raised by the MLAs disclosed shocking news about the lack of own accommodation and play grounds with no fewer than 4,800 schools in the State. These schools are run from rented accommodation which means that the Education Department has to pay heavy annual rent to the owners of the houses rented out. Obviously, the schools run from rented buildings do not usually have large compounds or play ground where the students of young students would indulge in extra-curricular activities like playing various games, setting up various functions, conducting morning prayers etc. The students of these institutions are deprived of facilities to carry on their various activities in open. It is not only in rural areas of the State that hundreds of schools are without their own buildings, even in capital cities of Srinagar and Jammu there are a good number of schools run from private buildings. The Minister in charge of Education has given the district-wise breakup of such schools which shows that 629 schools function from private accommodation in Srinagar district and 92 in Jammu district. This gives an idea of how many schools are run from private accommodation in other districts.
The Central Government has been providing huge funds to the State under various schemes connected with the improvement of educational infrastructure in the State. The Central Government has floated various schemes for bringing about reforms in our educational system. Why has not the State Education Department initiated a campaign for own accommodation and why should the matter has been taken up only after a question was asked by a member of the House. There is no convincing answer to it. One could also presume that the system of paying huge monthly rent to the private owners of accommodation where schools are run may be beneficial to some people at the helm of affairs. Such a possibility cannot be ruled out.
The Minister did not disclose how many Government schools are without toilets. He only said that 17506 schools have been provided with toilet facility during the last two years in the State.
The Education Department should make a long term plan suggesting that all Government schools should have their own buildings with all necessary infrastructures. It will take its own time but the initiative has to be taken.