Both headmistresses sit across each other, their chairs, tables, and racks crammed into whatever little space remaining

For someone whose idea of school essentially constitutes classrooms -- one for each section, the scene at Padmanagar in Malakpet could be a revelation. Here, school comprises not only classes, but staff-room, principal’s cabin, and office space -- all in a single room! What’s more, the diminutive room accommodates not one, but two such schools!

The Government Primary School (GPS), New Malakpet, and the Government Boys’ Primary School (GBPS), Phisalbanda, along with their staff and paraphernalia, manage to exist here in a community-hall.

Packed into the room is the combined strength of over 100 students. Both headmistresses sit across each other, their chairs, tables, and racks crammed into whatever little space remaining. Utter din prevails here as more than two classes are conducted simultaneously at any given time.

Till two years ago, the schools occupied two different floors of the same building at Malakpet, which was demolished to make way for Hyderabad Metro Rail. Shifted to a community hall then, they have been counting on the promise of a permanent building by Rajiv Vidya Mission.

“We dumped all our furniture in another school building, as there is no space here. We are looking forward to shifting to the new building, where we can bring our furniture back and have separate classrooms,” says Azra Fathima, the Headmistress of GBPS, Phisalbanda.

Functioning from another community hall at neighbouring Shankarnagar is the Government Girls Primary School (GGPS), Old Malakpet. Here, the relatively bigger room accommodates 135 students.

Initially located near Malakpet Race Course, this school was merged with the GBPS, Wahed Nagar, during the “rationalisation drive” taken up by the district administration a few years ago. However, with orders issued against closure of merged schools, it had to be relocated to Shankarnagar, but without any building of its own.

While the two schools at Padmanagar can hope for a permanent building some time in future, GGPS, Old Malakpet can see no light at the end of the tunnel.

On a recent visit, the former district Collector Natarajan Gulzar issued instructions to the revenue and education officials to shift the school to a better building within a week. A month has passed since, but to no avail.

“Ample government land is available here. Unless used for construction of school buildings, it will eventually be occupied by political goons.

The slum residents want better education for their children, and not political and religious propaganda,” says Syed Bilal, an activist from the locality who filed a petition in State Human Rights Commission over the issue.

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