School in Uri under open sky since 2005 devastation

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: It may sound strange but it is true that despite passage of eleven long years, the students at primary school in this Uri town are still deprived of basic infrastructure and are forced to take classes in the open sky.

Nullifying the tall claims of the government of providing quality infrastructure and education to students, a primary school in north Kashmir’s Uri town has been functioning in a makeshift shed for the past 11 years. Government Girls Middle School Garkote is functioning in a temporary shed after the school building was damaged in the devastating earthquake of 2005.

According to students and staff, they have to face immense hardships due to lack of proper accommodation. “In 2005 earthquake, the school building was completely damaged and since then we are teaching in a nearby makeshift shed,” said a teacher posted in the school. With lack of proper infrastructure and paucity of space in the shed, the students are forced to often study under open sky.

“At least five classes are being conducted under open sky every day. These small children have to bear the hot and cold weather vagaries. And when it rains they have an off day,” he said. The teachers said that they have to accommodate at least 80 students in the shed.

“The makeshift shed has been divided by ply-board sheets to make students from KG to 8th class sit in six small rooms. The students jostle in the shed and feel suffocated,” said another teacher.

The temporary shed is without doors, windows and matting causing inconvenience to the students. The teachers claimed that they approach the Zonal Education Officer (ZEO) Uri every year with a written application for the reconstruction of the school building.

“The ZEO always says that the school has been built on the custodial land and no help can be provided from the department,” the teachers said.  Zonal Education Officer (ZEO) Uri Abdul Rasheed, said that nobody among the locals was providing them land to reconstruct the school. “It is our departmental procedure that if somebody would provide us the land for the school construction, we provide them with compensation but nobody has turned up so far,” the ZEO said.

He added that many times the written complaint has been registered with concerned MLAs and MPs, but nothing has been done so far. He further expressed apprehensions that this temporary shed may remain forever, as no one is willing to provide land for school building. “The education department is providing us funds for infrastructure, but here the problem is to own a land. Despite request to the successive MPs and MLAs, no person is willing to provide land,” ZEO said.

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