Students of Kasturba Gandhi Residential School in Namkum attend a class . Picture by Hardeep Singh
Ranchi, June 22: At the Kasturba Gandhi Residential School in Namkum, rooms meant for students to sleep in double as classrooms in the morning.
For the 214 students, school is a block resource centre for the last six years. The arrangement was supposed to be temporary, but no building was allotted, forcing the girls to remain at the centre.
An official of the education department said a new school building was being constructed 15km away from the current campus and it should be ready in six months.
But till that happens, the girls have to cope. “We attend classes in the same room where we sleep at night. In the morning we bring out the benches,” said Savita Kumari, a student of Class X.
The space crunch is acute. There are only four rooms, so the school authorities have no option but to use them to house the students and teach them. As many as 42 students (Classes IX and X) are forced to attend classes in two rooms. Classes VI to VIII are held at a nearby state-run middle school.
“Not only do we have a space crunch to hold classes, there is hardly any space for them to sleep. The majority of students spend the night at the local Kisan Bhavan,” said Swarnima Toppo, who teaches social studies.
Toppo added that two security guards were not adequate for the school. The rooms have windows sans iron rods. “We feel scared at night. It is possible for outsiders to enter the room through the window,” said tenth grader Priti Toppo.
Lack of teachers is another issue. “There are four sanctioned posts for teachers, of which one is vacant. Four retired government teachers take classes,” added Swarnima.
Adding to the problems of the students is the lack of water supply. There is one hand pump, that too at a nearby government school, but the water is not of good quality. “During the summer the situation is at its worst as we have to depend on the hand pump for drinking water,” said assistant teacher Anima Bhutkumar.
On a brighter note, the students do not lack basic facilities like food, clothes, bags and access to computer education. Other than the mid-day meals, the students also get milk, fruits and non-vegetarian items on a regular basis. Extra curricular activities and vocational training are also imparted.
And that little effort has yielded good results with all the 26 students who appeared for the matriculation exam this year clearing it, five of them with first division.
Notably the state had introduced the concept of Kasturba Gandhi residential schools in 2005 for unprivileged girls residing in rural areas.