A school is a learning place supposed to be well equipped and attractive to allure children towards it
Schools play a crucial role in shaping the student’s academic life like an experienced teacher and teaching pedagogy. It creates a favorable environment for student’s holistic growth. Schools are supposed to be the temples of learning but government schools in Kashmir, with access to technology aside, don’t even have spacious and well-ventilated classrooms and good furniture which is a key element for learning. We must remember that poor and inadequate infrastructure is student demotivating. The quality infrastructure facilities not only improve student outcomes and reduce the dropout rates but play an important role in student’s academic journey. In this era of digitization, we have kept the term ‘infrastructure’ confined to water, toilet and electricity facility only.
A school is a learning place supposed to be well equipped and attractive to allure children towards it. However, the current infrastructure status in Govt. schools across Kashmir is by and large crumbling. Decorum apart, these schools particularly up to middle, even lack the basic facilities which are vital for imparting education. One fails to understand why these schools unlike private institutions lag behind in terms of sufficient infrastructure. Not to talk of digital technology, we have schools in Kashmir that lack basic elements of a classroom. One wonders, how we can equip our students to cope with the digital revolution when the situation is so dismal. About 60% of Govt. schools in Kashmir are constructed on the pastureland. A school is otherwise supposed to have infrastructure available for ‘disabled’ children but alas, our government run schools even lack genuine facilities. Teaching-learning can never become joyful unless the infrastructure is set right. 21st century is on and the system of imparting education in most of the Govt schools is fractured and crumbling.
Fencing is an indispensable component of the infrastructure of an institution but as for the fencing of Govt. schools is concerned; there are about 80% of them which are without it. The ‘fence is a form of defense’ but regrettably government schools display an appalling situation almost everywhere. There are number of schools in the valley where even locals conveniently dump garbage in the school premises. Many Govt. schools have multiple entry points where a person can enter from one side, and come out from the other. Every parent wants to admit their kids in a school which is safe, secure and where learning is enjoyable. They wish to ensure the school has ample safety standards and facilities to make learning joyful because a school is actually a home away from home for a student. The reason why they prefer to send their wards to the private schools is because they are perfectly maintained, properly fenced, adequately staffed, and are pleasantly located. However, when one steps in a Govt. school premises, one gets cheesed off to see the awkward infrastructure in place. Here, a teacher has to face a series of hindrances before actually entering a classroom. This is probably one of the reasons why very less number of parents are willing to enroll their kids in Govt schools.
A well- equipped library houses a wealth of useful books, well- ventilated classrooms, and mood-lifting ambiance, brightly colored walls, clean premises, class size, etc. It plays a key role in overall academics of a student both scholastically and otherwise too. Studies have proven that students in schools with poor infrastructure have lower learning capabilities than those with access to better infrastructure facilities. But alas, a well- equipped library aside, our Govt. schools do not even get sufficient textbooks on time. The un-safe buildings, by and large, in Govt. schools, are a big blot. Nobody ever tried to issue orders to dismantle these unsafe structures rapidly to set things organized. Some high schools have too many single-storey buildings but only a few are functional. Things deserve to be reformed and streamlined without delay. All Govt. schools need to be embellished to allure parents for admitting their kids. A stringent law must be imposed to protect these schools and anybody found harming these schools must be sternly dealt with. I very well remember when I was deputed to join a school in my vicinity. The school faced both the problems, that of infrastructure as well as of fencing. No doubt, the school was designated as a ‘model school’ of the zone in a survey but paradoxically, the school functioned in a three-roomed SSA (Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan) building with about sixty students from 1st to 8th on roll.
The administration had commendably partitioned three rooms into six and even converted the verandah of the building into a classroom. In these types of cocooned school buildings, teaching-learning process would get badly affected. Both, teacher and taught, would utterly feel uncomfortable. And, when in May, 2016, the school got clubbed with a nearby middle school; new Infrastructure problems started emerging up. Getting clubbed was like out of the frying pan into the fire for teachers as well as students. Although the new school was pleasantly located in a quite open space yet it lacked fencing. The concerned management assured to resolve the infrastructure problem. However, in the end promise remained like a wild goose chase. Use of digital technology in education here is too far a dream to be achieved unless infrastructure is not fully renovated. Furthermore majority of the schools still lack latest techniques of learning including digital classrooms, interactive projectors, interactive whiteboards, ICT labs, LED panels, etc. Govt. should solve the infrastructure problem by making these schools attractive to please both, teachers and students, far and wide.
(Author is Columnist and Teacher at Govt. Middle School Shangergund, Dangiwacha)