Education in Uttarakhand suffers neglect

Dehradun : Even as the deteriorating standard of education in Uttarakhand is crying for attention, the state had to bear a loss of about Rs 240 crores from 2006 to 2011, as the centre cut grants under the education head because of the incapability of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan to use the amount allocated to it, despite the prevailing sad state of affairs.

But what is more appalling is the fact that despite a sum of Rs 1236.50 crores having been spent during this five year period, the facilities being provided by the schools and their condition have remained dismal. No toilets were provided even for girl students in a large number of the schools.

A school in Uttarakhand

In as many as 162 schools there was not a single teacher, while in 3510 schools the number of teachers was far less than the accepted norms. This is perhaps why parents are still reluctant to send their children to school, which is evident from the fact that even official records maintain that about 84,000 school-going children are not attending schools.

Even the rate of drop-outs at the primary level is alarming. Official figures maintain that 2,35,477 children enrolled themselves in the primary classes in 2006-07, but  of these only 35,245 reached the class five level in 2010-11. Meaning that over two lakh children dropped out in the primary to class four level.

On construction of school buildings the picture is not rosy either. During this five year period, Rs 306.32 crores were sanctioned for construction of 35718 buildings, but over 31 per cent of the amount of money remained unspent as either the works were not begun or left at the half way stage.

As far as construction of girls toilets were concerned, 1058 toilets remained unfinished in the primary schools, 669 in the upper primary schools and as many as 5888 in the secondary schools. Some of the female school teachers in the schools have complained that even they do not have a place to go to ease themselves and find themselves in a predicament.

And the children studying in some of the schools are doing so at the risk of their lives for the quality of construction in 56 school buildings that were constructed were found to be much below the specified norms. And despite this having been brought to the knowledge of the department, no action has been taken against the agencies responsible for the construction.

Photo Courtesy: Ajay Gour

A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt is Editor Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish has worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, Jagdish is a recipient of many awards, latest being the 2011 Development Journalism Award. He lives in Dehra Dun.

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