Far from the government's tall claims of an all round facelift of the education sector, several hundreds of government run schools face acute problems.

Telangana government school students without uniform standing outdoors in a schoolImages by Charan Teja
news Education Thursday, June 16, 2022 - 12:27

Government schools in Telangana are seeing a heavy influx of students this academic year, but they seem woefully unprepared for it. New admissions are underway and attendance in most schools is nearing full capacity, but the schools have not yet received uniforms or textbooks. The situation is alarming as the Telangana government is mulling the introduction of English medium instruction for students of Class 1 to 8, besides renovations and construction of buildings.

A visit by TNM to some of the government-run primary and high schools in the rural areas of Medak district found that most of the schools are operating with fewer teachers. Many of the schools are housed in dilapidated buildings and some do not have adequate number of rooms.

Medak district has as many as 943 government schools. Out of this, 624 are primary schools, 128 are upper primary schools besides 146 high schools and 23 residential schools along with 15 residential Kasturba Gandhi Girls schools and seven model schools hosting around 1.23 lakh students across the district. As per a rough estimation, about 28 lakh students or 46.1% of the total schoolgoing children are studying in the state's over 30,000 government schools, including 3,436 residential schools.

Students attending classes without a school uniform

Zilla Parishad High School (ZPHS) in Ramayampet town with 390 students is yet to receive the textbooks for the present academic year. N Savitha, headmistress at the school said, “Textbooks and uniforms are yet to come and as per the official information, we may receive them in one or two weeks.”

According to Savitha, their school, despite being one of the schools with a high number of students, does not have classrooms in a good condition, as some of the classrooms were built three decades ago. The school also does not have proper washroom facilities for boys. The same is the case with another primary school with over 300 strength of Class 1 to 5 students. Kavya B, a Class 10 class student said "We do not yet know when we will get the text books. Presently, we are following old text books of our seniors, and there is no clue about uniforms either."

Parents enrolling their children in a school

According to the officials, textbooks disbursement has been delayed this year, as the government is printing mirrored model bilingual textbooks with identical text in English and Telugu together. Teachers in several schools have undergone English Language Enrichment training during the summer vacation for about 11 weeks, but according to the teachers that underwent the training, they said they were not given any curriculum or course book for the bridge course.

The Telangana government had decided to facelift 26,000 government schools across the state with an outlay of Rs.7,289.54 crore in three phases under Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s (KCR) "Mana Ooru Mana Badi" (our village-our school) programme.

With a cost of Rs 3,497.62 crore, the government aimed to develop 9,123 schools by providing 12 different facilities including drinking water, toilets, playgrounds and computer labs in the first phase. Under the programme, each selected school with a student strength of 100 would get Rs 50,000 development fund. But none of the improvements have been completed or in some cases, even begun.

Students attending classes in open ground

According to officials, primary schools are supposed to have a 35:1 (student:teacher) ratio, while high schools should have 40:1, but this is not being implemented. In Nizampet Mandal, the Nagarathanda primary school, has only one teacher for 55 students from Class 1 to 5. Most of these children belong to weaker sections. In conversation with TNM, teacher Padmalakshmi said that her students would get justice if at least two more teachers are appointed to the school.

When TNM reached out to District Education Officer (DEO) A Ramesh, seeking his reaction to the dismal state of schools, he said that steps are being taken to address the concerns in all schools. He said, "Text books will be given in the next one week, the uniform clothes have arrived and stitching is underway. The training for English medium teaching was completed for the teachers. We are going to issue an outline for the bridge course in order to familiarise the students with teaching in the English language to all the students."

The DEO, when asked about the lack of student-teacher ratio in certain schools, said that may be the result of teachers who are working on deputation reporting at their home/own schools, while stating that he will soon sort out the issue.

Several students in the rural areas in conversation with TNM demanded that the government also provide nutritious breakfast in the morning before classes begin, besides the regular mid-day meal.

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