In Madhya Pradesh, many govt schools run from shanties, temple and open space

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The Madhya Pradesh government claims to have reached the last mile when it comes to providing schools for children under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan as records claim that no student at the primary-level has to walk more than 5-km to reach a school. A reality check, however, shows that there are many schools across the state that do not have a building and are being run either from the open space or from shanties and other makeshift place like temple.

In Goberber village of the Bhimpur forest block in Betul district, the village temple doubles as a school. The school and the temple run simultaneously as there is no restriction on devotees. The government has released money for construction of school building, but there is no place to build a school.

“There is lot of inconvenience in running a school from a temple, but more than the inconvenience the sad part is that the government has allocated funds for construction of a school building but the higher authorities are not bothered. They just want to increase their count. They are not bothered as to how and from where the school is being run,” said Kailash Samahal, who works as a teacher at this school.

At a little distance from this village is the Lakhapur Gawadi village which has a school building that was constructed by the education department on land donated by a villager. Ironically, the school building is not being used and small kids have to walk up to five-km to reach a school in a neighbouring village. The building in this school has been taken over by village musclemen and is now being used to store hay.

Several complaints have been made, but no action has been taken against encroachers.

“I have complained to the school education department, but they are not interested in taking back the possession of this building which was built by the department,” said Narsingh Yadav, a villager who has complained to the district administration.

In Morena district, 69 schools do not have a building. Just five-km from the district headquarters in village Pampura, a school shifts almost on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s run from an Anganwadi centre and sometimes from a makeshift shanty. And when nothing is available, and it is not raining, the school functions from open.

In Chindwara district’s Haranberdi village another mobile school is found. The teachers here run the school from wherever they get space. On a rainy day, the school stays closed.

District Collector JK Jain accepted that schools did run from open spaces, but had no explanation on why they existed at the first place. “We have received complaints about lack of schools. We will look into it and propose to the government to construct buildings,” he said.

The school education department that claims to have opened a school at every five-km does not have the figures about schools that do not have their own buildings.

“This year, we sanctioned Rs 80 crore for construction of buildings. We have asked for details of schools that do not have a building, and in the coming year, we will ensure that these schools have a building of their own,” Minister of State for School Education Deepak Joshi said.

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