Schools in J&K sans basic facilities

Who among the political leadership would rue over the startling revelation that thousands of our schools in the State are without basic facilities like toilets, drinking water and electricity ? Would such leadership not raise voices because perhaps it is not an issue with them instead raking up stereotyped political issues or indulging in mudslinging against one another. These seemingly are the “priorities” which tax most of their attention and interest. And all this is done as if the accusing ones are proverbially ‘ bathed in pure milk’ and vice versa. This is particularly more astonishing that Jammu and Kashmir State is not an economically backward State like Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh etc that it cannot afford these elementary facilities in our schools. Imagine the plight of the girl students in absence of a proper toilet. With what justification do such leaders from political parties criticise private schools that they were charging exorbitant fees etc when the fact of the matter is what ‘Excelsior’ in its issue of February 23 has highlighted in respect of the subject matter in a detailed and tabular form. We do not , however, give our acquiesce in any way or justify increased cost of getting education from such private schools but we, at the same time , cannot overlook or blink the attention, these schools pay towards providing these basic facilities to the students.
Those who have been helming the State Education Department right from the Cabinet Ministers down to the hierarchy, owe an explanation over this inhuman face . The position has remained in absolute inertial mode even after Prime Minister’s undaunted campaign, nothing short of a social revolution in developing a culture of having toilets across the country . When rural face of the country showed an unprecedented turnaround in adopting and popularising the use of toilets , how come a progressive and comparatively better economically placed State of Jammu and Kashmir remain aloof, must be answered. These are the issues over which voices should be raised instead on those which seize the attention of most of those who matter in the society .
What about the massive funding provided by the Union Government under various schemes for providing these elementary rather rudimentary facilities not only to the students, the teaching staff but perhaps to the entire population. Times are striking hard or are prone to adopt uncompromising response to how public money was expended , each and every Rupee was going to be accounted for in respect of how and where spent for which, institution of audits, inspections and accountability would rule supreme . Ministers’ and top bureaucrats’ bungalows, bathrooms etc keep on being avoidably ‘renovated’ and refurbished lavishly as also living facilities made more comfortable at the cost of the tax payers’ money but no heed is paid towards the school going boys and girls.
That in 22 districts of the State as many as 16597 primary, middle, high and higher secondary schools have no electricity mocks tall official claims of mass electrification. In scorching summer months , especially in Jammu division , the difficulties of the students without a ceiling fan in the classroom can be visualised than explained. In respect of no water and toilets, the number of schools is in thousands. We do not bring herein the number of non- functional ‘toilets’ in schools . It is shocking that in 22 districts of the State , as many as 1110 schools have no girls’ toilets , Poonch, Kishtwar, Pulwama and Kathua are “leading” in owning this “distinction”. State authorities must take up this job on priority and we shall continue to keep a track of the developments in this sensitive matter.