Posts Tagged government schools

Of stone-throwing and dilapidated buildings . . .

In class last week during a course on Speech Communication,  a student wondered about the role of physical noise (sounds, objects, etc., that distract and therefore affect communication) in our classrooms of yore when students sat under a tree and listened to their guru with all of Nature as backdrop. Well, noise or no noise, it was probably infinitely safer back then! At least they didn’t have parts of their building suddenly collapsing on them.

 Like it did on Saturday in a college on the outskirts of Hyderabad, killing one student and injuring several others.

So what’s new? School and college buildings have been collapsing with tragic regularity all over Andhra Pradesh.  Undoubtedly it’s a shocking and distressing incident, but as if to prove that one death is news and several just statistics, the media and the government have gone into a tizzy over the incident. The Chief Minister has ordered the inspection of all private colleges in the city and the tabling of a report thereafter.

Hey-lo? Now this is what I call stone-throwing by people in glass houses. Except that we’re talking dilapidated school buildings here, and other people  children  are getting hurt. The management of this college is guilty of criminal negligence  no two opinions on that. But I’m dumbfounded by the government’s disparagement of conditions in corporate colleges. 

For one thing, the Neerada Reddy Committee submitted a scathing,  extensive report on these conditions last year. What happened to the report? Why hasn’t action been taken on it?

For another, what about government school buildings? Yes, go ahead and inspect all private colleges. But shouldn’t that favour be extended to government schools as well?

This picture of a government school (from Kalpana Sharma’s article on primary education in India in last Sunday’s Hindu)  is representative: 

 

 

 

 

 

A lot of government schools are little better than this. Like the ZP school in Madhapur, in the heart of Hyderabad’s “Hi-tech hub” — a stark contrast to the sprawling, luxurious buildings around. 

When basic sanitation, ventilation, space, and safety are compromised like this, how can we expect children to be in  any frame to study? 

As Sharma rightly asks in her article:

When we can contemplate investing in nuclear arms and energy, in highways and airports, in oil fields and mines, in industry and the market, can India not build schools?

 Government schools in Hyderabad beg the question: if governments can invest in swanky airports and countless SEZs, why can’t they spend on decent buildings for schools? Why do we repeatedly elect such governments back to power? What is happening to the taxpayer’s money?

And we hear all the time of plans for more and more universities, Centres of Excellence, IITs and IIMs. Depressingly ludicrous. What is the point in investing in higher education when the base of the pyramid is rotten and tottering? Will any government have the sense to redirect at least a part of that funding to primary education?  

 

 

 

 

 

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