Unsafe classrooms

Haryana must ensure secure schools on priority

It took the cave-in of a part of a Hisar village government school for the authorities to swing into action. It’s sheer good luck that no student or teacher suffered any harm in the collapse. However, luck may not favour them every time, for the state is home to many dilapidated school buildings that are precariously standing on the edge of a disaster. As many as 25 of them are in Hisar district alone. The unsafe structures have even been declared condemned. Fearing for their lives, some students of a Kaithal school had to knock at the door of the court in 2017 for a quick response and relief.

But unmindful of the urgency, the wheels of the state machinery have been moving at their own sweet pace. Lackadaisical approach and apathy of the authorities hold sway as years pass by before a rundown structure is recognised and razed and a new one raised in its place. The unwarranted delays come at a callous cost: the rightful and proper education of thousands of children. Proposals hang fire as files hang around in various departments, including education, PWD and panchayats. A PIL in the Punjab and Haryana High Court by an NGO, on which the Haryana Government got a notice earlier this month, says that the lives of over 6,500 students are at risk in the state as they are forced to study in buildings which the PWD had declared unsafe back in 2013. A comprehensive assessment of the condition of all old schools is called for. As per the state policy, district education committees are mandated to ensure regular inspection of schools. This safety measure seems to be missing, particularly in rural schools.

The Haryana Government, which has been laying stress on education, especially of girls, with its much-hyped ‘Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao’ campaign needs to shun rhetoric and act fast before any untoward incident happens. The BJP’s recent Assembly poll manifesto promises a ‘Mhare Sapno Ka Haryana’. The foundation of this dreamland lies in a robust school education setup.

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