Not been provided alternative land by the Delhi Government

Come May and over 800 students, mainly belonging to families of book-binders, carpenters, box-makers and petty hawkers in Old Delhi, won’t be able to continue their studies. Their school, Qoumi Senior Secondary School, is on the verge of closure because it has not been provided with any land by the Delhi Government that officially runs it.

The school has been functioning with bare minimum infrastructure in tents and under tarpaulin sheets inside the Delhi Idgah since the past 38 years after its five-storey school building at Sarai Khaleel area was razed during the Emergency on May 15, 1976, claimed the school authorities.

Last week the Idgah Committee gave the school a notice to vacate its premises as it can’t sustain the school any longer. Despite hundreds of requests to Delhi Government to provide land to the school, no response came, claimed Abdul Malik Quraishi, manager of the school management committee.

“The history of the school is mainly defined by the struggle to survive,” highlighted Mr. Quraishi, while sitting under a ramshackle tent, surrounding by a moth-eaten blackboard and creaky furniture in what is supposed to be a school classroom.

A make-shift laboratory now functions under a tin roof that gets blown away on breezy days. The vermin over the last 35 years have not only damaged the records but eaten away most of the books of the now almost non-existent library of the beleaguered school.

Expressing pessimism over the indifference shown by the Delhi Government, Mr. Quraishi said: “Had it not been for this school the children from the most backward sections of the Muslim population of Sadar, Qasabpura, Quresh Nagar, Bara Hindu Rao and Kishan Ganj would not have been educated. But the manner in which the government has been treating the school is shocking as it shows that it is not serious about education among the poor,” he added, while also appealing to the government to arrange for alternate land.

Firoz Bakht Ahmed, a community activist who has been working on the issue of education in the Walled City, highlighted the sad situation of the school: “Every time there is a dust storm, a spell of rain or a cold gust of wind, students in the ragged tents of the school huddle closer and wonder how much longer they will be forced by official apathy to bear the harsh vagaries of nature”.

School Principal Mohabbat Ali highlighted that the absence of proper infrastructure not only affects the educational performance of the school it has also had an adverse impact on the health of the students. The Board result this year for Class X was just 33 per cent and for Class XII it was 73 per cent.

“Students are sick most of the time owing to the warm sand storms in summer and chilly winds during winter,” claimed another senior teacher. Then during monsoon, it becomes impossible to run the school as it always gets waterlogged,” he said.

Mr. Bakht, however, also blamed the minority community for its dismal educational situation. Instead of looking up to the Government and blaming it, Muslims should also come forward and take responsibility for their own needs, he argued.

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