Grandiose Gajwel education hub in shambles
Children who have enrolled in the Zila Parishad Girls High School, after being shifted from its old building to the new campus, now do not have even the skeletal facilities to which they had access in the previous premises.
Gajwel: The much-hyped ‘Education hub’ in Gajwel, where all Government High Schools, Model Schools as well as Junior, Degree and Post-Graduate colleges are to be consolidated on a single campus with plans to build towering structures on par with corporate educational institutions, may have wowed those who have been hearing about the project from a distance. Get closer, it won’t be long before you know it is all humbug; for, as the maxim goes, distance lends enchantment to the view.
Children who have enrolled in the Zila Parishad Girls High School, after being shifted from its old building to the new campus, now do not have even the skeletal facilities to which they had access in the previous premises. The strength of the girls’ school last year was 320, which more than doubled this academic year since the shifting of the classrooms and hostel to the education hub.
The current strength is 682. This includes 142 girl children who had enrolled in this government-run institution, having believed official sweet talk and said goodbye to private schools where they had studied till last year.
“I joined here because I can complete my PG here,” said an eighth standard girl, who had come all the way from Thimmakkapally in Medak mandal to study in this much-talked-about institution. There are children who have come from Narayankhed, Zaheerabad and other faraway places also to study here.
Although enrolment of students has been beyond the expectations of the Department of Education, two months into the academic year, call it poor planning and coordination or administrative lethargy, children are disgusted with the woeful lack of basic facilities, including those which are indispensable for a child to live and study well.
The increase in enrolment numbers may jolly well turn out to be a temporary thing, as children have started leaving the school due to reasons like congested hostel accommodation, absence of a dining hall or a proper kitchen and absence of books in ‘library’ and equipment in ‘laboratories’, to mention just a few of the issues.
Children could be seen forming a long queue outside their school building on Friday, with empty plates in their hands, waiting for their turn to get food served to them from a make-shift temporary kitchen located right in front of an open sewage drain. Girl children can be seen jumping over the drain to reach the food containers that have daal, eggs and rice.
“When it rains, water seeps into the poorly-built kitchen and children need to come here all the way to get food and they must go back to their school with their plates full, as there is no place for them to sit and eat near the kitchen,” said one of the workers serving food.
There is a slum right beside the make-shift kitchen, housing construction workers who are engaged in building the schools, colleges and hostels in the education hub. The work is continuing. The sewage water which flows near the make-shift kitchen comes from the open toilets and bathrooms of this slum.
Hundreds of migrant construction workers from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and other States are engaged in construction work here and the sewage water coming out of their slum is stagnant near the boundary of the school. Whenever it rains, the drain in front of the kitchen fills up; putting the lives of 682 girl children in grave danger of food contamination.
The slum is located right at the entrance of the school block and construction workers could be seen bathing nude at an open mini-sump, giving the school girls a sickening view. The presence of the slum within the girls’ campus and the fact that labourers stay day and night in the girls’ campus raise serious safety and security issues.
One hopes that the authorities would address the core issues before any untoward incident happens. There are two schools housed on the same block. One is the ZPGHS Gajwel and the other one is Telangana Model School Gajwel. While the co-education model school is housed on the ground and first floors, the ZPGHS is housed on the second floor.
The slum has come up on what was intended to be the school ground. Due to this, the children of the two schools have no place or equipment to play outdoor games. They have been conducting their morning prayer, assemblies and other events inside the building itself. A programme in one school causes disturbance to the other.
“We are conducting yoga, indoor games and morning prayers in the projector room, but it gets too congested. We tried conducting the prayer on the terrace, but children find it difficult in times of rain or hot sun,” said Vijaya Rekha, Physical Education Trainer. The girls have been accommodated in a temporary hostel inside the Girls’ Junior College block, which is adjacent to the five-storey ZPGHS hostel under construction.
About 30-40 girls are cramped in rooms which are not hostel rooms, but a classroom of junior college girls.
There are toilets, but no bathrooms or place to wash clothes. This leaves the girls with no choice but to take bath in toilets and wash their clothes there itself. There is no provision of gas for cooking. Though there is an overhead tank, a pipeline and tap connection is yet to be given to the block.
“The engineers say that there is no provision to construct kitchens in the current layout. Therefore, they built a temporary kitchen outside the building. But, it is consuming a lot of children’s time and making it difficult for me to monitor them and the food being served there,” said M Sharada, Principal of ZPGHS.
She also said that though the strength had doubled, there was no increase in the strength of the teaching staff. “We had requested the department to sanction academic instructors for all 7 subjects, but only three posts were sanctioned and three volunteers were selected. But only one Vidya Volunteer has started working,” said the worried principal.
Though there are a few books in the library, most of the racks are empty. The ‘science lab’ has no equipment. The principal has raised the issue with the district administration, but with no response yet. She fears that all the glory of getting highest number of students could be lost, as parents were taking their wards away, due to lack of basic facilities in the palatial ‘Education hub of Gajwel’.