The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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SC glare on state of Bihar schools

New Delhi, Jan. 24: The Supreme Court today issued notices to the Bihar government, the Centre and the National Human Rights Commission on a public interest litigation seeking a thorough probe into the “appalling” condition of primary schools in the state.

A division bench of Justices S.N. Variava and B.N. Agrawal, which issued the notices, also put on notice the administrators of district schools in the state.

The PIL by the Champaran Trust contended that the condition of primary schools, which it described as the “Gandhian temple of learning”, was “pathetic”. The petitioners sought orders from the apex court to ensure proper functioning of the schools and “preservation of the Gandhian heritage” in the country.

The petition said Mahatma Gandhi started his first satyagraha in India in 1917 from Champaran district and primary or basic education was his primary concern, then.

It added that the “Wardha schools experiment”, finalised at the Wardha conference in 1937 by stalwarts like Zakir Hussain, Acharya Vinoba Bhave and Kaka Saheb Kelkar, started with a “network of Wardha schools” from Champaran at the instance of Mahatma Gandhi.

Now, out of the 35 schools in the district, 29 had been closed down. Only two of the remaining had “safe buildings”, the PIL contended. The four others had no teacher for decades, it claimed.

Out of the total sanctioned strength of 484 teachers for about 44 government basic or primary schools, only 100 had been appointed.

The primary school at Bhitiharwa Ashram near Gohana block in West Champaran district has only two teachers, against the sanctioned strength of 11, the petition pointed out.

The petition said the apex court had often held primary education to be “a basic right”, but the children of Bihar had been deprived of this. Moreover, the situation was worsening by the day.

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