The abandoned tin shed that was meant for the New Primary School at Gwala Basti in Jamshedpur. Picture by Bhola Prasad
If things fall into place, five-year-old Rima Kumari and her friends students of New Primary School at Gwala Basti, Sonari will no longer have to study under a peepal tree or without a blackboard.
According to a plan of the East Singhbhum district education department, several primary schools, which are currently running from open grounds or rundown huts, will get makeshift classes.
Acting on a directive of the state HRD department, the department has sent it a proposal for raising temporary structures made of tin that can be joined with nuts and bolts. Land, a major hurdle in giving permanent campuses to these schools, will not be required.
The department is bullish about implementing the plan by next year.
The concept is simple. We will use metal sheets like tin to construct the shed and the walls that can be joined with nuts and bolts. This will help us avoid the hassles of transport when we choose to shift to another area. We will have to outsource the work to a private agency, said Prakash Kumar, additional district programme officer, East Singhbhum.
There are as many as 64 primary and middle schools without own buildings or space in East Singhbhum. Out of the 64, 32 have applied to the district administration for acquiring land from where they are currently functioning and are expected to get the no-objection certificate.
The remaining 32, which are mostly New Primary Schools (NPS) like the one at Gwala Basti in Sonari, lack bare minimum necessities to call themselves schools. Thus, the concept of makeshift schools works best for them.
We have sent the proposal and now it depends on the state HRD to give us the green signal. Land is really a problem and hence, this concept works fine. At least, the children would have a safe place to sit and study, said Indubhushan Singh, district superintendent of education, East Singhbhum.
The students of the Gwala Basti NPS study under a peepal tree on the premises of a temple.
NPS-Kanuhatu at Bhuiyadih, which teaches classes I to V, functions from a rented hut with just two teachers.
In fact, in some schools, midday meal is not provided, as there is hardly any place to serve food to the students and wash utensils.
Getting land to set up schools is a problem in Jamshedpur, as most of it falls under Tata Steel sub-leased area. Although the district education department has written to the company, seeking land on rent for the NPSes, no response has been received so far.
As part of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, earlier mobile vans used to visit various places to teach children but the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, makes it mandatory for students to go to schools.