Despite having the best brains in the form of teachers, the government-run schools in Kashmir are witnessing a fast depletion in enrolment of students due to lack of basic infrastructure and outdated systems of teaching which pushes even the poor people to admit their kids in private schools in order to secure their future, Kashmir Scan reports.
Once an epitome of excellence, Government Middle School Tanchidara, Doru, in district Anantnag wears a deserted look these days. The school has produced many doctors and engineers but, from many years, the enrollment has gone down and many classes have less than ten students. The class 8th which always had more than 30 students has just seven this year.
“The school was one of the best government schools of this area. It was famous for its overall performance in academics and co-curricular activities, but the situation has changed now. The enrollment of students in different classes is decreasing day by day due to many factors and the leading among them being the lack of infrastructure and other facilities that are best provided by the nearest private schools”, said a teacher who worked previously there, on the condition of anonymity.
“We tried our best to make it a model institute, did everything what was required and even sometimes used money out of our pockets for the up-gradation of its infrastructure so as to attract more students but we could not do much as can be expected from the government”, he added.
The school is on the Hakura-Badasgam road near Tanchidara. It is without any fencing and lacks modern day school infrastructure. According to the government, nine lakh students still receive education from 11,766 government schools, compared to as many as 27,00 private schools with the total enrolment of nearly six lakh students.
Parents whose children are studying in private schools in district Anantnag and other areas have met the concerned authorities from last many years for the creation of Government Model High Schools in different areas on modern lines.
According to them, they tried their best to convince the concerned authorities but their plea has fallen on deaf ears. Officials never showed any seriousness, they say. “Last year we met as a delegation with the concerned authorities for the creation of Government Model High Schools with infrastructure similar to the private schools so that we could enroll our children there but nothing substantial has come so far in this regard”, said Mehboob-ul-Maryam, an IT Consultant who is eager to enroll his daughter in a government school if proper infrastructure is provided there on modern lines.
“We can’t play with the future of our children by sending them to those government schools which even lack proper doors and windows, separate toilets, laboratory and library facilities that can take a toll on their exposure and overall development”, he added.
The dismal performance of government schools last year in class 10th had been the talk of the town. According to official data, 22 government schools had zero percent result in class 10th which was much debated in the media and civil society.
“I can’t even think of sending my daughters to government schools which have been labeled as zero percent result schools”, said Ghulam Nabi Dar, a laborer of village Kokernag. “I will work even harder to pay all their school dues but will not send them to government schools when they provide free education to girls but without any facilities”, he added.
The best brains among teachers are working in government schools with different specializations as well but parents are still reluctant to send their children to these schools. Even the teachers working in government schools enroll their own children in private schools which exposes the condition in government schools.
“I always thought of sending my only son to a government school having best brains to teach students but the lack of accountability and administration being the part of this system is stopping me from taking this decision”, said Mohammad Asif (name changed), a teacher working in a Higher Secondary School in Anantnag.
“The government middle schools are occupied by female teachers and what I experienced there is that they have never been serious in teaching students and always are busy in knitting sweaters or discussing their household chores that actually impacts the progress of government schools”, he added in dismay.
According to sources, many government schools in cities and towns are occupied by the female staff who are close relatives of top bureaucrats and other senior officials who have never been transferred or made accountable which is ruining the whole public education system, leading to the closure of many schools. The Rehbar-e-Taileem scheme has not been much successful to improve the academic environment in the government schools in the primary and middle level because majority of these teachers were either having qualification of 10+2 or graduate which took a toll on the students.
Many middle and primary government schools have been clubbed with the nearest middle schools where the enrollment of students has decreased considerably, leading to the near closure of these schools. The government boys’ middle school Bongam Hakura Anantnag has been clubbed with government girls middle school Hakura.
“We had no other option except to club these schools due to the problem of enrollment and infrastructure since parents are reluctant to send their children to these schools”, said an official of the Education department on the condition of anonymity.
“I fear that in the next few years almost 60 percent government middle and primary schools may be closed due to the lack of basic facilities”, he added.
A Unified District Information for Education (UDISE) survey in District Baramulla last year revealed that as many as 39 schools are running without proper buildings and 38 even lack proper class rooms. Another survey carried out in the year 2015-16 in 7262 villages of the state also underlines that 2667 schools operate without water facilities and 21, 381 schools have no electricity connection.
There is another aspect of dwindling enrollment of students in the government middle and primary schools. The syllabus and the books are outdated compared to the private schools. The system of the government schools has not been updated and they are being run without any changes being made as per the evolving system of public education.
“How can I send my daughter to the government school when the syllabus they teach is outdated which cannot develop my child’s psyche according to the modern day needs”, said Mohammad Shafi, a business man of main town Anantnag.
“Computers and other advents in the field of Information Technology can only be dreamed of by a student in a government school. This is the need of the hour for a child to remain updated but the government perhaps thinks otherwise. The sooner they wake up from their slumber, the better it will be for our society”, he added.