Students can't enter classroom as cyclone-hit school opens
Although schools across Bengal reopened earlier this month after an “agonising” two long years, students of Biramput Primary School in East Midnapore’s Contai did not get a chance to sit in their classrooms.
Over the last two years, the walls of the two-storey school building were torn down by cyclone Amphan first, and then tidal waves brought by Yaas.
Benches, chairs, and tables for students to sit on have been damaged by prolonged exposure to water.
Disheartened students said on Friday that the school “looked like a ruin”.
“Under these circumstances, students could not enter the classroom on the first day of school’s reopening on Wednesday. Classes are being held temporarily on the third floor of the multipurpose shelter adjacent to the school, much to their dismay,” said a source.
“There are no stairs in this shelter, only slopes, and we have to climb up and down precariously merely to attend our classes,” said one student.
Aside from Biramput, over a hundred schools in East Midnapore have similarly been damaged by Amphan and Yaas. Hundreds of schools
are reportedly having to be repurposed or shifted without any government help or direction.
Arup Bhowmik, district secretary of the Primary Teachers’ Association, said: “Thousands of schools across eight blocks of East Midnapore have been damaged by Amphan and Yaas. But except for some schools in four blocks of Nandigram and Khejuri, the rest of the schools have not received financial assistance of any kind.”
“Students have to go to school in a dilapidated building somewhere. Somewhere outside the school, students have to take classes,” he added.
Sources in the education department said they had been alerted to the issue.
Biramput Primary School in Junput area, 1 km away from the sea, has 153 students and four teachers at present.
Headmaster Sitaram Das said: “The school was established in 1997. Five years ago, cracks appeared in the school wall during the construction of the Multipurpose Shelter Centre in the vacant space next to the school. In 2020, the Amphan storm made the cracks bigger. The school’s asbestos flew off along with the tent structure. Last year, a one-storey building was completely submerged in the sea. As a result, the building became dilapidated. Everything from school books to important papers were ruined. Cyclone Yaas blew up not only the school building, but also the adjoining kitchen asbestos shed. At present the hut is covered with hogla leaves.”
Amit Giri, the father of a first-grade student at the school, said children had to climb up and down dangerously from the fourth floor.
“They are eating their midday meals in an unhygienic environment,” he said.
An estimate has been made that it will cost around Rs 20 lakh to repair the school building. Inspector of Schools (Contai- 2) Pranoy Pahari said the present condition of the school building required a large amount of money for rehabilitation.
“A proposal in this regard has been prepared and sent to the education department through the district school inspector. The new building will be constructed as soon as the financial grant is received. Until then, the school has been instructed to take classes in alternative places,” he said.