Infrastructure of Government Schools

Public Report on Basic Education in India, Oxford University Press, 01/01/1999, N21.P.1 -   38-52 (scan) The School Environment Ch4

Dismal Infrastructure and learning environments plague hundreds of schools in India...

Fifty per cent of the over three crore Class IX students will have to stay out of school due to lack of infrastructure in various schools.  To avert such a situation, the Planning Commission has directed the HRD ministry and all state education ministries to go in for strengthening vocational and technical education programme.   The HRD ministry has admitted that there was a huge gap in infrastructure and that it would take another 10 years to bridge it. Planning Commission deputy chairman K C Pant, who met Central education officials on Friday, noted that it was an alarming situation: 1.5 crore children, educated up to Class VIII, will be unable to study further.  "Such a huge number of literate children without any engagement could well be drawn towards anti-social activities like crime or even terrorism. It could lead to massive social anarchy," said a senior Commission official. "To avoid such an eventuality, Pant has called all Central ministries and institutions involved in vocational education to evolve assured employment and demand-based education models," an official told The Times of India." - No schools for 1.5 cr Class IX students, BISHESHWAR MISHRA, Times of India, 20/10/2003, /eldoc/n22_/20oct03toi1.html

More than 2,400 students study in the premises, situated just a few metres away from the Kodungaiyur dumping yard of the civic agency. The burning of garbage, that happens almost on a daily basis, blankets the school in smoke right from 9-30 a.m., when the school starts. Since there is no compound wall, the wind blowing towards the school carries scattered gar-bage including plastic covers. All the toilets, but for the girl's toilet in the higher secondary, are damaged beyond use. Whenever a student from the primary section seeks to attend nature's call, the teachers are left with no option but to permit them to defecate in the open ca-nal, just behind the school  The only water tank in the school premises has been dam-aged by outsiders, who gain easy entry. "Most of the slum dwellers enter the school at will and even tease the girl students. ...
As if these infrastructure defi-ciencies were not enough, there is also a lack of teaching staff here. According to a member of the Parent-Teachers Associ-ation, there are just 27 teachers taking care of 1,400 students of the higher secondary. Importantly, the school has just last year been elevated from a middle school to a higher sec-ondary. The first batch of stu-dents have entered the Plus-Two this year, but the postgraduate teachers to teach maths and science have not yet been recruited.- Smoke and dust keep them company, Karthik Subramanian, Hindu, 26/07/2002, /eldoc/n22_/26jul02h1.pdf

 

Over 1,000 ashram schools and 190 government- run hostels for adivasi children in Maharashtra are facing lack of basic facilities. Students have been subjected to severe discomfort as there are no bathrooms, no roofing and tiling and no power connection. In addition, stockpiles of foodgrains have been contaminated due to the free run enjoyed by insects and ants.
There are 410 government-run ashram schools, 507 aided ashram schools run by non-governmental organisations and 161 post-basic ashram schools in the state. Together, they house over 2,70,000 adivasi students. The Vidhan Sabha's Anusuchit Jati Kalyan Samiti recently visited these schools in Raigad, Gadchiroli and Amravati and also the 190 hostels housing over 15,000 students...- State-run schools in bad shape, Asian Age, 25/08/2001, /eldoc/n22_/25aug01aa1.pdf
 

THE dilapidated structure with its falling plaster, cracked pillars and dingy walls, housing the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) Khairnagar school in Bandra East has become the centre of a row. A sum of Rs 1.20 crore was sanc-tioned last year by the Municipal Commissioner for its complete re-structuring after demolition. How-ever now it is being said that all the building needs are repairs, leaving the,school authorities perplexed.
The building which houses two seconary schools was built in 1976 but despite frequent reminders over the past five or six years by the principals of the two schools to the education department of the BMC of the poor conditions noth-ing was done. A teacher, speaking on anonymity, pointed out that there were heavy leakages in the rains and the school made several complaints about the need to carry out repairs .- BMCs study in neglect upsets school, Indian Express, 17/05/2001, /eldoc/n22_/17may01ie1.pdf

 

FOR two years the water taps of the Umarrajab Munici-pal School in Madanpura remained dry. Now water is expected to gush through the pipelines by the weekend. All this because Municipal Commissioner V Ranganathan paid a visit to the school on Wednesday. With some 2000 students in the school and no water the condition of the toilets has been pathetic. But in the monsoons the water inside the classrooms has been plentiful thanks to leaky roofs. This monsoon hopefully things will be better. The Commissioner's visit and the setting of deadlines has net achieve in three days what the school authorities were struggling to get since the last two years...
Umarrajab High school, it was the poor maintenence at the 100 year old building of Imamwada High School which demanded at-tention. ' During monsoon stu-dents have to use an umbrella even while sitting in the classroom. This may sound an exaggeration to out-siders. But it is a reality here," said Samajwadi party corporator, Waqarrunisa Ansari who had initi-ated the visit.- Fruitful visit, fitting lesson, Indian Express, 05/01/2001, /eldoc/n22_/5jan01ie1.pdf

 

THE academic year in this municipal school at Santacruz (W) began with classes of a different kind this year. Utensils, stoves, pressure cookers, buckets, matresses and clotheslines clutter 14 classrooms and a hall at the Mitra Mandal Marathi and Chunabhatti Hindi and Urdu Primary School, both of them housed in a two-storey building. But far from being an experiment in non-conventional edu-cation, the paraphernalia illustrates a lesson in civic logic, which has virtually turned the premises into a slum. Just before the school re-opened af-ter the summer vacation, a new batch of "students" moved in: 35 families from Daulat Nagar, Santacruz; Ghewalla Chawl, Chunabhatti; and Shashtri Nagar, whose huts were de-molished last month. The premises are therefore being used as temporary ac-commodation till a transit camp being built nearby is ready. If things go accordihg to plan, these families, who shifted in on May 22, will move out in a week.
Till then, the 1,900-odd students will The school's new occupants prepare lunch as classes are conducted in an adjacent room.
The absentism is 50 to 60 per cent these days as parents are reluctant to send their children, especially the girls, to school given the environment," says another teacher. The study charts in the classrooms are torn, the walls have acquired a layer of soot, the benches are damaged and blackboards have acquired bright red paan stains.
The decision to convert this school into a temporary shelter was taken by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), which simply broke the locks on the school gate an inside before taking possession of the premises on May 22. "A total 16 locks have been broken, eight wooden chairs and benches damaged," says a peon. Ward Officer, V W Pawar told Newsline that the ward office would foor the bill for the damage.- Is it a slum... is it our school, kids wonder, MANJU MEHTA, Indian Express, 26/06/2000, /eldoc/n22_/26jun00ie1.pdf

 

TOI took a road trip with members of the BMC's standing committee on Tuesday to see how repair work in 49 school buildings, as ordered by the Bombay high court in July, is going. The high court judgement had laid down a time frame and proper guidelines and ordered the BMC to follow them. The BMC team, anxious to see the quality of work before sanctioning money for more work, went to four schools. Everywhere, the work was slow and shoddy... Although repair work had been on for more than a year, it was far from complete. The work that has been done, is already showing the effects of not paying attention to quality. Recently replastered, the walls were already lined with termite trails. (This, too, the contractor attributed to the two-day holiday.) The cement was crumbling and furniture lying in heaps in classes that resembled godowns... More than Rs 90 lakh was to be spent for the repair of two of the schools, and roughly Rs 60 lakh on the other two. The results are nowhere to be seen.
In 2002, at the end of its study of BMC schools, the Dhanuka committee had said, "The inevitable conclusion is that there seems to be no system to generate quality consciousness." A court order later, the same holds true even today.
- Schools fail to toe HC line on repairs, Rukmini Shrinivasan, Times of India, 03/11/2004 /eldoc/n20_/03nov04toi1.pdf

"Though there has been some improvement in infrastructural facilities in schools, the situa-tion is far from satisfactory. Toilets in almost all schools in poor localities are still not usable. Septic tanks are choked. Children still have to go out of the schools to drink water as water tankers come only a few days a month. Fans may have been repaired but switchboards have not been installed in individual class rooms," Mr Gupta said, after visiting numerous schools in recent weeks. He said that increased enrol-ment had resulted in shortage of class rooms and students of two to three sections are seat-edin one class room. Many are seated in the corridors by spreading 'durries' bought with PTA funds.
Students this correspondent spoke to, in various MCD schools in Piragarhi, Sultanpuri, Rajinder Nagar and Beadenpura, said that they either fetch water from home or go outside the school to drink water. To relieve themselves, they go behind their class rooms and not to the toilet blocks.- PRIMARY LESSONS FOR MCD SCHOOLS, ARUNA P SHARMA, Hindustan Times, 05/11/2000, /eldoc/n21_/05nov00ht1.pdf


The physical neglect of educational structures and facilities is mostly unchallenged. This, however does not devalue the role aesthetics and building typology play in the learning experience.
The shocking recent case of a two-year- old child who fell to the ground from an open window of a Mumbai play school severely injuring himself, brings to the forefront the lack of aware-ness regarding the physical spaces where children live, learn, and play. While as-pects of Indian education like donations, capitation fees, syllabi, tuition classes, and increasing student populations receive public attention, both educators and ar-chitects feel that school architecture and space manage-ment is sorely ne-glected till disaster strikes. There appears to be little satisfactory control by parents or teachers in the design of new schools; often cramped, poorly constructed spaces, or the utilisation of old ones, not de-signed to meet today's needs. Yet it is a well-established fact that surround-ings affect learning and independence. - A Choice of Structures, Kaumudi Marathe, Humanscape, 01/07/1996,  /eldoc/n00_/01jul96HUS2.pdf


STATISTICS is one thing, but reality is something else. The teacher-pupil ratio (TPR) of government primary schools is cited to be an average of one teacher for 45 students. But classes packed with 60-70 children is a common sight in several schools. In some extreme cases, the number may even cross the century mark.
The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) as well as Delhi Government claim that the TPR in their schools is about 1: 44 and 1: 42 respectively The MCD, which takes care of primary education in the Capital, makes an allow-ance that the ratio can go upto 1: 52 in some of their schools. While the average ratio might be closer to the accepted ratio of 1:40, there seems to be a problem in the distribution of teachers. "It is a fact that teachers prefer to work in schools which are cen-trally located rather than those in far flung areas like Narela, Samaipur Badli or Pappan Kalan.- Herded in like cattle, Hindustan Times, 29/04/2001, /eldoc/n21_/29apr01ht1.pdf

As many as 1,828 primary schools in the State do not have their own buildings, there is a shortage of classrooms in respect of another 32,866 schools and of these schools 31,109 have no drinking water and toilet facilities. This is the status of primary schools in the State, which, in all, number 43,332.

In addition to the lack of infrastructural facilities, there is a shortage of 3,341 teachers at the primary and higher primary level, according to Department sources. A proposal has already been sent to the government seeking appointment of 10,000 teachers before June this year in order to maintain the student-teacher ratio.- Shortages abound in primary schools, Deccan Herald, 07/03/2005, /eldoc/n21_/07mar05DCH1.html


There is no drinking water facility in 67 per cent of the Government primary schools in the State, according to the Minister for Primary and Secondary Education, R. Ramalinga Reddy.

At a press conference here today, he said that the Government has not been able to provide drinking water to students in about 30,000 primary schools (67 per cent) and toilets in 78 per cent of the schools. With the increased allocation in the Union Budget for the Sarva Shikshana Abhiyan during 2005-06, the State will get an additional Rs. 140 crores (total Rs. 402 crores) under the scheme in the next financial year. The increased allocation will be used to build 9,000 classrooms and toilets, he said. The State received Rs. 362 crores under Sarva Shikshana Abhiyan during 2004-05. Asked about the extension of the midday meal scheme to Class X, Mr. Reddy said the proposal is before the Government. An additional Rs. 70 crores will be required to cover 17 lakh students of both government and aided high schools under the scheme.

There are no kitchens for the midday meal scheme in 18,000 government schools. The Minister sought permission from the Government to utilise Rs. 67 crores reimbursed by the Centre for implementation of the midday meal programme this year. The amount will be utilised for construction of kitchens in the next financial year.- Many government schools lack drinking water, Hindu, 03/03/2005, /eldoc/n21_/03mar05H1.html

The Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) may have over 4,000 pourakarmikas but not even one of its seven primary schools has had a pourakarmika to clean class-rooms and toilets on a regular basis for several years now. You would never believe it, but BMP spends, on an average, Rs 10,000 per child per year in each of its schools - a statistic not particularly shown in the facilities. Even BMP officials’/ employees’ children do not study in BMP schools. According to a recent survey, on a scale of 1 to 100, all schools score 0 on library facilities. On the same scale, not a single school scores over 38 points on toilet facilities. These and other startling revelations were brought forth during a comparative study of the BMP-run schools in the City that Akshara Foundation signed up to develop infrastructure in last year.- BMP schools score zero in facilities: Survey, DEEPA BALAKRISHNAN, Deccan Herald, 04/10/2004, /eldoc/n21_/04oct04dch1.html

IT seems that the Punjab Government needs to be told that appointing teachers and not spending crores on education drives holds the key to educating the masses. A visit by The Tribune to about a dozen village schools located on the banks of the Sutlej here revealed that the education system in the state has virtually collapsed.

These schools don’t have enough teachers and infrastructure and the only thing they have is Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan inscribed on the walls of dilapidated buildings. Almost all schools have no peons and safai karamcharis and students come half hour early to clean up the campus.Government Primary School at Jindra village is crying for attention. It has only one teacher for 81 students of five classes.

When this correspondent visited the school today, the only teacher was on leave and an intermediate girl who had been appointed as temporary teacher was managing the students. Some of the bright students were teaching their classmates. The school doesn’t have a boundary wall, toilet and proper drinking water arrangements. The students were being taught in the open as there is no power connection in the schools. Classrooms are in a shambles and one of the rooms was serving as a store-cum-kitchen.-  Abhiyan’ without ‘Shiksha’ in Punjab schools, Perneet Singh, Grassroot Development, 01/10/2004, /eldoc/n21_/04oct04dch1.html

The declining fertility and consequent declining enrolment has resulted in the generation of numerous uneconomic schools in Pathanamthitta district. But a significant finding of this study is that the declining enrolments have not resulted in any notable surplus physical infrastructure facilities in schools and the available facilities are still poorly maintained. The reason for this phenomenon was the existing inadequacy in the physical infrastructure of these schools earlier. First, classrooms were not separated by walls; rather, long classrooms were separated with wooden partitions, which can now be removed to increase the space of the rooms. This is an improvement over the earlier situations, where previously students used to sit in congested classrooms because of large enrolments with many students attending the classes. Secondly, too many schools don’t have separate rooms for headmasters and staff. With decline in enrolment these rooms are now utilised as staff room, sports room, recreation rooms, etc. Thirdly, both private aided management and government schools have partially stopped making any fresh investment on infrastructure because enrolment has come down drastically and they face the threat of closure. 

One of the advantages of declining enrolment in these schools is the attainment of better teacher-pupil ratio. Almost all schools are better off now with respect to the number of staff rooms, classrooms, library books and drinking water facilities. But a major deficiency still exists in terms of laboratory facilities, library rooms, recreation room, sports rooms and play-grounds, latrines and urinals for boys. In a few schools there is a deficiency of teachers and it can be adjusted through transfer of teachers from schools having surplus. There is a need to provide some more non-physical infrastructure in schools besides improving available facilities and maintain quality. The increase in cost per pupil so far has been towards the salary payment of the teachers but not on the improvement of quality and there should be a policy change in this regard. In sum, declining enrolments in government and private aided schools have led to improvements in physical infrastructure facilities but nowhere has it resulted in significant surplus infrastructure.- Fertility Decline and Falling School Enrolment, J Retnakumar, P Arokiasamy, Economic & Political Weekly, 15/11/2003, /eldoc/n21_/151103EPW4827.htm
 

Inadequate and inefficient utilization of funds  would naturally lead to poor infrastructure in government schools...

The bonsaification of education has caused damage on many fronts. Like allocating   a mere 15 per cent of what Parliament actually promised for basic education. Try running your household at 15 per cent of your normal budget and you will soon discover how difficult it is. Further, bonsaification has evolved spurious definitions of a school. The best on offer is the official primary school with twin rooms and two teachers miraculously running five classes simultaneously. Then there is a single room facility (often a shack), irregularly manned by an eighth class pass or 10th class pass person who ‘guarantees’ education. - Bonsai Effect in Basic Education, SANJIV KAURA, 08/01/2004, N00 /eldoc/n00_/08jan04toi1.html
 

Chief Minister N Dharam Singh on Friday announced that Rs 5 lakh each will be provided to 800 government schools across the State for infrastructure development.

Speaking to mediapersons after the inauguration of the centenary celebrations of the Fort High School, Mr Singh said four schools of each of the State’s 202 educational blocks will receive the funds that can be utilised by the respective school development committees. In this World Bank-funded initiative, infrastructure development would be taken up in 2,400 government schools within the next three years, he said.
Minister for Primary and Secondary Education Ramalinga Reddy revealed that Rs 10 crore has already been released as advance for purchasing uniforms for government school students, and there is a further requirement of Rs 58.33 crore for procuring 62.23 lakh uniforms. He also demanded that the government should allocate Rs 67 crore in the budget for construction of 18,000 kitchens required for the mid-day meal scheme. Apart from infrastructure, the minister also promised to look into providing computers to all the 2,400 government schools to promote computer education. - Infrastructure fund for 800 schools, Deccan Herald, 19/02/2005, N20 /eldoc/n20_/19feb05DCH3.html


Educationist and dissent-ing member in the Ashok Mitra Commission Sunanda Sanyal, who remains one of the government's bitterest crit-ics in the education sector, read out a litany of charges. Bengal's schools did not have a high dropout rate, he said. The number of en-trants itself was very low, he added, quoting from a 1998 Unicef report. The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan would fail in Bengal, Sanyal said; a government that could  not handle formal education  would not be able to manage non-formal education, espe-cially when teachers would be  paid only Rs 1,000 or Rs 2,000. Besides, the government has failed in making schools and the curriculum "attractive".  Schools without meals, toilets  and uniform and a syllabus that did not pay any attention to "area-specific needs" are  what Bengal's students have  got apart from a politicised school environment. Biswas did not deny the charges. "Amar buk bhenge  jaye" he said, explaining how  lack of finances had prevented changes. - Kanti confesses to flaws in education policy, The Telegraph, 06/02/2005, N20 /eldoc/n20_/06feb05tel1.pdf

The usual argument put out by all Gov-ernments, State as well as Central, is the shortage of funds for education. But look at Maharashtra's performance on this count. Although the outlay for successive years for education has increased, only a fraction of it is actually spent. The Bal Hakk Abhiyan report outlines the discre-pancy between plan allocations and actual funds made available in the annual State budget for education as well as the gap between the amounts allocated and the amounts spent. For instance, in 1998, Thane district should have built 700 classrooms. Instead only 72 were built. In Akola, the target was 500. Only one classroom was built. In Washim too, only one was built although the target was 170. Every district had a huge shortfall between target and actual performance. In Chandrapur, not a single new classroom has been built since 1997. How can things improve if the deficit of physical spaces where children are sup- posed to learn is so enormous?
Even funds provided by the Centre have not been utilised. For instance, Rs. 10.40 crores were sanctioned by the State Gov-ernment in 1993- 94 under a scheme spon-sored by the Centre to buy 8,000 colour television sets for primary schools that are run by Zilla Parishads. But an audit in-spection (December 1996 to October 1997) found that out of a total of 880 TV sets which were to be distributed in seven dis-tricts, 520 sets, costing Rs. 66.24 lakhs, could not be used. Here is what the report states: "The TV sets in 42 schools of Thane district were not used due to absence of electricity, 246 schools of Sindhudurg, Sangli and Ratnagiri were not in the limit of transmission, in 162 schools of Ratnagi-ri, Aurangabad, Raigad, Satara and Thane, the TV sets sent were defective or dam-aged. Further, in 70 cases in Ratnagiri and Aurangabad the sets were not used as the schools were not provided boosters." So much for audio-visual learning tools. - Waiting to learn, Kalpana Sharma, The Hindu, /eldoc/n21_/14sep01h1.pdf

 

The Kumbakonam tragedy was a result of careless planning and poor infrastructure...

According to the S V Chittibabu Commission report (released in March 2003), nearly 65 percent of 1635 schools (Tamilnadu) that responded to the survey had less than one acre at their disposal for school buildings and a playground. One in four schools in the Matric stream remains unrecognised. About 43 percent of the schools had pucca buildings, the rest were either fully or partly kuchcha. Only 19 per cent of the boys and 28 per cent of the girls had access to "suitable" toilet facilities.
But for the devastating Kumbakonam fire, this report would have remained forgotten. Among the many recommendations from the Commission was one to fix uniform fees for the matric schools, but this was abandoned after the Supreme Court ruled in favour of managements' right to fix fees independently (TMA Pai vs. State of Karnataka). With one important part of the recommendations made redundant, the state government threw the rest of the commission's proposals out as well. But now, the death toll from the fire has forced some administrators to scrutinise private schooling in the state once more.
In its July-August 2004 survey of six districts, the Tamilnadu Child Rights Protection Network found that 13 out of 171 schools surveyed functioned without any recognition. And 30 of the 36 schools in Thiruvarur district were roofless after the government order on removing thatched roofs! Of the 32 schools in Madurai district, 9 did not have playgrounds, 6 had no toilet facilities and many more had only rudimentary amenities. Potable water was not available in 12 schools. In Nagapattinam, one of the schools was in the passageway of a marriage hall and 19 of the school buildings were dilapidated. Twenty schools were without playgrounds and three private schools had fewer than 3 acres. Of the 61 schools sampled, 33 private and aided institutions have not registered with the government.
The budgetary allocation for education in ratio to the GDP has hovered around the 3 percent mark. And of this miniscule portion, a huge chunk goes toward paying salaries. (Rs 3890.29 crore was the non-plan expenditure for 2004-05) while plan expenditure like upgrading schools and opening new ones garner only around 10 percent. Unless the spending on educational infrastructure is upped, the aim of free and universal primary education by 2007 will be unattainable, says Mr. Velayutham. - Majority in the breach, Krithika Ramalingam, indiatogether.org, 01/10/2004 N20  /eldoc/n20_/kumbakonam.html

Sandwiched between two residential buildings, the school, which is just 40 feet (12 metres) wide and 120 feet (36 m) long, had a total strength of 740 students and was a virtual death trap. The only entrance, and exit, was a nar-row door, which was closed during working hours, even when a fire burned in the kitchen on the ground floor. The school, as it turns out now, had violated several rules and regulations governing the building and safety.

  On the evening of the incident the Chief Minister saw for herself the burnt-down school and visited the injured children in hospital. She held the management of the school and the officials of the Education Department responsible for the fire and ordered criminal action against the management. She cited several instances of violation of rules, including the use of thatched roofs for the kitchen and the classrooms and the presence of such a kitchen close to the class-rooms. A single narrow staircase leading up to the first floor from the only en-trance to the school was another factor that she pointed out as a reason for the tragedy.

... of the nearly 62,000 private schools in the State, 16,000 function under thatched roofs. According to some educationists, just re-moving the thatched roofs will not make a difference to the poor quality of in-frastructure in these schools. They ask more basic questions: Why are nursery and primary classes conducted on the first and second floors? Why are kitchens (of the noon-meal centres or of the school) situated close to the thatched roof of a school? How are primary schools allowed to function without a playground and without ensuring proper safety, sanitation and hygiene? How can three or four schools run from one build-ing? How have the schools, which are supposed to follow the Grant-in-Aid Code of the Tamil Nadu Education Rules, been escaping scrutiny?
According to a retired teacher, most schools are run with a profit motive and their managements are "well-connected".

The Grant-in-Aid Code (Appendix LL, Chapter VIII, Rule 52) is a thoughtfully detailed document that goes into all aspects of setting up a school. It says on: Selection of site "Sites should not be selected if its nat-ural position is in a hollow or in the neigh-bourhood of high trees, or houses that prevent the free circulation of air and ac-cess to sunlight...."
Orientation of buildings Floor space: The minimum require-ment is 9.53 sq ft per student for ele-mentary schools and 10.65 sq ft per student for secondary schools...
Seating arrangement: After providing a detailed design for desks and arrange-ment of dual and single desks inside the classroom, the Rules state that seating without a backrest or desk is objection-able. "Students are required to be seated in rows with the main light falling from the left side and they should never face the light."

Evidence from all over  the State points to large-scale flouting of these rules by schools, but until now not one school has had its recognition withdrawn. According to the Madras Education Rules, elementary schools shall be established on a mini-mum of three acres and on five acres if the student strength exceeds 800. In case the school building has more than the ground floor and if the length of the school is less than 70 feet (21 metres), there shall be two stairways. If the length of the building is 100 feet (30 m), it shall have three - one at either end and one at the centre. The stairways shall be so de-signed that all students from the upper floors can reach the ground level in two minutes in case of an accident.
 There are also several oth-er provisions such as the Chen-nai Municipal Corporation Act, the National Building Code and the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority Rules, which prohibit the use of inflam-mable materials in the construc-tion of public buildings, including schools. For instance, under the Corporation Act, "No external roof, verandah, pandal or wall of a building and no shed or fence shall be constructed or reconstructed of cloth, grass, leaves, mats or other inflamma-ble
material except with the per-mission of the Commissioner."

for schools in Tamil Nadu, the schools Frontline visited in and around Chennai were found to be in violation of most of the rules...The school managements took ad-vantage of this lacuna and set up schools without any playground, adequate space or proper infrastructure. Schools have come up in thatched sheds, in high-rise buildings and in cramped spaces. In sev-eral instances, more than one school -aided, unaided and English medium - is run within the same premises.

... The government set up the S.V. Chittibabu Commission in the 1990s to study the proliferation of unrecognised primary schools in the State. This committee prepared a code for nursery and primary schools, but this code had no statutory backing. When schools were asked to register under the code, most of them simply refused to do so saying that they did not want to be monitored. Of the 1,635 schools that responded to the committee's questionnaire, a fourth were unrecognised. Over 65 per cent of the schools (from LKG to the 12th standard) functioned on less than one acre (0.4 hectare), most without a playground. While only a fifth of the schools had a building area of more than 10,000 sq ft, 10 per cent of the schools functioned in buildings with an area of less than 1,000 sq ft. Some 19 per cent of the boys and 28 per cent of the girls did not have access to "suitable" toilet facil-ities. Nearly a fourth of the schools were in kutcha buildings with "small class-rooms". About 60 per cent of the teach-ers were untrained and a similar percentage of teachers had less than two years' experience. - TRAGEDY AT SCHOOL, G. SRINIVASAN, Frontline, 13/08/2004 N20 /eldoc/n20_/13aug04frn1.pdf
 

Access to schools determines the retention rate of students...

Since 1990, around 48000 children have been adding to the country's population per day i.e., 275 lakh every year. For this added population the implementation of the universalization of primary education would require additional infra-structural facilities. According to data available the total number of primary schools rose from 5.51 lakh during 1980-90 to 5.91 lakh during 1995-96. Presently on an average the number of students in a primary class is about 24. So even if a class with 36 students is to be planned we need to create at least 1,330 classes per day, for the additional 48,000 children. Since, there are five classes in a primary school here is need to set up 225 primary schools per day. Going by the existing rural school scenario there has been a shortage of 90,000 schools every year since 1989-90. To provide basic education facilities to all the children under the age group of 14 as stated in the Common Minimum Programme of the United Front government, it will be necessary to cover the shortage and requirement will be 90,000 primary schools.
According to the annual findings (1996-97) of the Ministry of Human Resource Development accessibility of schooling facilities is no longer a major problem. About 8 lakh habitations covering 94 per cent of the country's population have now schooling facilities with in one KM distance at the primary stage. At the upper primary level also 726 lakh habitations covering 83.98 per cent of the rural population have a school with in three KMs distance. The enrollment ratio is 104 for primary stage (class I to V) and 67 for upper primary stage (Class V - VII). The Fifth All India Education Survey stated that of the total primary schools in the country 54.49 per cent were running in pucca buildings and 8.1 per cent in the open areas. The survey also found that 25.83 per cent primary schools were in need of one extra class room 28.64 per cent two and 22.26 per cent require three class rooms .
- Policies and Programmes to Improve School Education in Rural India - A Critical Evaluation, H.D.Dwarakanath, Social Action 01/10/2002, /eldoc/n00_/01oct02SOA10.pdf

 

At present, there are 6,10,763 primary and 1,58,506 upper primary schools in India. Still the villages in India do not have primary and elementary schools within reach.

According to the Sixth All India Educational Survey, 

Infrastructure of Schools:

o The Sixth All India Educational Survey revealed that about 41,198 primary schools and 5,638 upper primary schools were being run in thatched huts, tents and open spaces, and about 4,000 schools were without teachers, and single teachers were running 1.15 lakh primary schools.
o As per recent statistics, around 5% primary schools do not have any classrooms at all and another 15-20% have only one classroom.
o About 40% schools do not have safe drinking water, and only 15-20% schools have separate toilet facilities for girls.
o Only 15% schools have two classrooms, 2 teachers, basic learning kits and teachers training orientation (Govinda 2002:12).
o 20% of primary schools are run by single a singular teacher; 61% of primary schools have no female teacher; and 26% schools have a teacher- pupil ratio above 1: 60 (Dreze and Sen 2002:167)... - Campaign For The Right To Education, National Centre for Advocacy Studies, 01/07/2002, /eldoc/n00_/campaign_right_education.pdf

According to statistics available with the Minis-try, 15 per cent of the total habitations covering 46 per cent of the rural population is not covered by secondary education within a radius of 8 km. And, only 5.04 per cent of habitations with less than 18 per cent of the population has secondary schools within reach. To facilitate access, a strategy that has been suggested by the Ministry pertains to using the guidelines given in the Unnikrishnan judgment on professional colleges, to put in place a regulatory framework where at least 30 per cent of seats shall be available to the disadvantaged groups from the school neighbourhood/local community. Other strategies that are being con-sidered for broadbasing the secondary education network have been billed as the "patronage framework" and the "funding framework". Under the "patronage framework," the pro-posal is to have the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS) establish schools in partnership with voluntary agencies. "These schools, while re-maining under the KVS umbrella may have private management representing parents and other stakeholders. Thirty per cent of admission into the schools may be given to the neighbour-hood's economically weak students either with governmental support or through cross subsidisation."- Tenth Plan to focus on improving access to secondary schools, Hindu, 17/04/2002, /eldoc/n22_/17apr02h1.pdf

PRIMARY SCHOOL facility has been provided at the distance of every kilometre in Madhya Pradesh. During last seven years 19,150 primary schools and over 26000 schools under Education Guarantee Scheme (EGS) has been opened ensuring universalisation of primary education. Now effective steps are being taken to provide middle school education facility at a distance of every three-kilometer with the same scheme in view.

Madhya Pradesh is the first State in the country where guar-antee of education has been giv-en to the children on the demand of community. So far 26,417 schools have been opened under the Education Guarantee Scheme which is under implementation from first of January 1997. Following creation of Chhattisgarh State the State of MP has 20,877 Education Guarantee Schools while Chhattisgarh State has 5540 such schools. The Government 's role is limited to providing school education facil-ities. The community appoints "Guruji" i.e. teachers. The Education Guarantee Scheme has won Commonwealth's Golden Award for this radical initiative and the Government of India has taken up the scheme as a national scheme. The State Government is making concrete efforts for universalisation of middle school education.- MP Gets Primary Schools At Every 3 Km, Majupuria, Sanjeev, Pioneer, 02/01/2001,  /eldoc/n21_/02jan01st1.pdf

Improvements in Infrastructure....
 A white washed and inviting building, colourful boards and lots of aids prepared by the facilitators and the learners, smiling children and involved teachers, surely this can’t be a village government school? Wait, there is more, the toilets are clean and there is even a small patch of garden that the children themselves tend to. We also spot a girl wearing a hearing aid and a boy with crutches in the classroom. 

When the predominant image of a government school is that of dilapidated building, disinterested teachers and discouraging results, the above mentioned welcome scenario has been possible due to Janashala programme. 
Janashala programme was started in 1998 as a 5-year project funded by the 5 agencies of the UNO. Implemented through the Ministry of Human Resource Development across 9 states in our country, this programme has been in effect in 10 blocks, covering six districts of Karnataka through the Department of Public Education. Funded at a cost of 11.37 crores in the State, this project has now received an extension of 2 years. - Adding joy to learning, Bharathi Prabhu, Deccan Herald, 30/03/2003, /eldoc/n21_/30mar03dh6.htm
 

The Union Rural Development Minister, Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, has said the Government will make all efforts to ensure drinking water and toilet facility for every school by March 2005. The Ministry will shortly launch a nation-wide programme on water quality monitoring and surveillance in collaboration with the Union Health and Welfare Ministry. - Drinking water, toilet facilities for schools by 2005: Raghuvansh, The Hindu, 25/11/2004 N20 /eldoc/n20_/25nov04h1.html

THE GOVERNMENT has finally been prodded into action. Following widespread criticism that government-owned schools lack even basic facilities, it has decided to hand over 1,000 schools to a third party for maintenance and upkeep. The Infrastructure Lease and Finance Services Limited (IL&FSL), in which the Centre has a significant stake, has been assigned the task of maintaining schools. The money being paid to the PWD would now go to this company. The contract would be for a period of five years, subject to renewal. "The proposal would now be implemented only from the next academic session," an official pointed out. Asked to explain the reasons for outsourcing maintenance of schools, an official said the PWD had its own priorities and projects. "We will now have one dedicated company to look into the nitty-gritty of school infrastructure. It would be answerable to the education department," he said. - Pvt help for schools' health, Amitabh Shukla, Hindustan Times, 01/11/2004, /eldoc/n20_/01nov04ht1.pdf

The World Bank-aided multi-phased District Primary Education Programme (DPEP), which was launched in 1997, currently ensures primary education for nearly 2.7 crore children in the 6-11 age group in 11,000 primary schools across the state. Of the total Rs 904 crore released by the World Bank, Rs 828 crore has been spent.

The World Bank had advised that initially, the programme cover villages where the female literacy rate was below the national average of 39.2 per cent as computed in the 1991 census. At that time, the rural literacy rate in Uttar Pradesh was 19.02 per cent; this increased to 25.3 per cent by 2001.

Of the 11,000 schools run under the project, nearly 7,000 operate from new cost-effective, yet attractive, buildings conceptualised and developed by local people with local materials under Board supervision.

The buildings have red trap bond walls, exposed brick masonry and local stone slab roofing. Because few villages have power, the buildings are designed to stay warm in winter and cool in summer, almost in the pattern of historical monuments. Other interesting features of the buildings are the hexagonal classrooms, which have been determined to be more conducive to group learning than regular squares or rectangles, and blackboards in the shape of animals, fruits and geometrical figures. The schools are also fitted out with slides and swings crafted from used tyres as well as games like Ludo and Snakes and Ladders.

So successful have the innovations proved that the Uttar Pradesh government issued a GO in 1999, suggesting that all primary schools in the state — a total of 88,684 follow the model structure and facilities. Even private schools in urban pockets in Lucknow have adopted some of these designs.- A Lesson in Education, Amit Sharma, Indian Express, 07/07/2002, /eldoc/n21_/lesson_in_education.html

Private schools may be popular but their infrastructure is not always good...

Even in vil-lages, the private sector is giving the government a run for its money and its students. It was unheard of even a few years back: private schools in vil-lages and small towns. But they are fast becoming the norm rather than the exception, and parents are not complaining. Even if it means having to fork out any-thing between Rs 20 and Rs 100 as monthly tuition fees, they feel it provides their children a better al-ternative to government schools.

... but the problem lies in the school environment, say the researchers. A majority of the sch-ools do not have any playground. The classrooms are small, often partitioned into smaller compa-rtments to cram in more students. "Our education system was al-ready stratified and the new priv-ate schools for children from low-income rural families have added one more layer. We can no more assume that private schools will have good infrastructure and qua-lity teachers," says a researcher. But parents are not complaini-ng. According to them, one major advantage of these schools is the access they get. In government sc-hools, they hardly ever get any inf-ormation about what their childr-en are doing, but in these schools, they can meet the teachers and remain updated on their wards. The study, conducted in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, found that one major reason for the proliferation of these schools is an in-crease in the number of the educated unemployed. For them, starting a school is a viable busi-ness proposition because there is (now) a proven demand for them. But it is very likely that paren-ts are sending their children to these ill-equipped schools for want of an alternative.- Village schools minus govt aid, MONOBINA GUPTA, Telegraph, 14/02/2001, /eldoc/n21_/14feb01tel1.pdf

There is no drinking water facility in 67 per cent of the Government primary schools in the State, according to the Minister for Primary and Secondary Education, R. Ramalinga Reddy. At a press conference here today, he said that the Government has not been able to provide drinking water to students in about 30,000 primary schools (67 per cent) and toilets in 78 per cent of the schools. With the increased allocation in the Union Budget for the Sarva Shikshana Abhiyan during 2005-06, the State will get an additional Rs. 140 crores (total Rs. 402 crores) under the scheme in the next financial year. The increased allocation will be used to build 9,000 classrooms and toilets, he said. The State received Rs. 362 crores under Sarva Shikshana Abhiyan during 2004-05- Many government schools lack drinking water, Hindu, 03/03/2005, /eldoc/n21_/03mar05H1.html



Lack of proper learning and teaching materials cause many to have learning difficulties and eventually drop out...

THE MUNICIPAl Corporation of Delhi (MCD) found itself blushing for all the wrong reasons once again. After it went to town with the much hyped launch of the English primer, it took the MCD's education committee members 30-long-years to figure out that a basic book of alphabets was needed for Hindi too. The national language is the medium of in-struction at all Municipal Corporation-run schools. According to education com-mittee chairperson Vishaka Sailani, the committee felt that "the foundation of the students needs to be strengthened". For three decades the students were made to learn the national lan-guage without the aid of a ba-sic picture book. According to sources in the education de-partment, the students were made to skip the Hindi primer stage and went straight to reading the text books. The youngsters eventually learnt to recognise the characters and associated the same with pho-netically. The corporation's schools, which did not even have English as a subject till recently, cater to mostly lower income groups. This, according to the education committee members, was a pri- used in the corporation's schools in the 1960s....
Till the end of the millenium, the students were left to learn Hindi without knowing the prop-er order of alphabets or even basic grammar.

 

More Articles:

- For 30 yrs, they lacked a Hindi primer, Karuna M John, Pioneer, 14/11/2000, /eldoc/n22_/14nov00pio1.pdf

- Rural children want middle schools to continue their schooling, ANUPREETA DAS, Indian Express, 07/01/2001, /eldoc/n21_/07jan01ie1.pdf

- 250 students, just one toilet, Dhanya Parthasarathy, Hindu, 04/12/2004, /eldoc/n22_/04dec04h1.html

- CBSE: Give children more space in classrooms, Times of India, 09/09/2004, /eldoc/n22_/09sep04toi1.html

- School fails village, sends it into mourning, MUKESH BHARDWAJ, Indian Express, 30/06/2001, /eldoc/n22_/30jun01ie1.pdf

- Hard way to learn, T.K. RAJALAKSHMI, Frontline, 27/08/2004, /eldoc/n20_/27aug04frn1.pdf

 

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Reports:

1. Education For All - India Marches Ahead, Government of India, 01/11/2004, R.N00.35

-  Meeting Quality Concerns, Ch 5  pg 33- 40

2. Quality Specifications in Schools, United Nations Children's Fund, 01/06/2004, R.N21.29

3. Public Report on Basic Education in India, Oxford University Press, 01/01/1999, N21.P.1

-   38-52 (scan) The School Environment Ch4

4.  Bombay Act No. LXI of 1947 The Bombay Primary Education Act, 1947, Government of Maharashtra, 30/01/1997, R.N21.25

 5. Sixth All India Educational Survey, Main Report, NCERT, 1999, - Ch 9 and 10 pg 99-157

6. Committees and Commissions on Indian Education 1947-1977- A Bibliography, AN Patra, NCERT, 1987, - Ch. 70 Committee on School Buildings, 1970 pg 136

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Books:

1. Kothari Commission, Anmol Publications Pvt. Ltd, B.N00.B16

-  Infrastructure – pg 167

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