Though schools in Ranga Reddy district are not run from community halls as is the case with Hyderabad, the district administration has to do a lot in terms of developing basic infrastructure, if it aims to retain students in the long run
Retention of students is the idea behind various schemes for development of infrastructure in government schools. However, one is shocked to realise that a total of 38 schools in Ranga Reddy district have zero enrolment and are on the verge of closure.
Parents, even if they are poor and cannot afford costly education, prefer to send their children to private schools, as government schools have earned the notoriety for lack of facilities and teachers.
Though schools are not run from community halls as is the case with the city, the district administration has to do a lot in terms of developing basic infrastructure, if it aims to retain students in the long run.
Quite a few school buildings are in a dilapidated condition, with walls cracking and rainwater seeping into classrooms. According to an estimate, the number of schools that urgently needs new buildings hovers between 100 and 150.
According to data available till September 2012, a total of 1,066 additional classrooms are required in the district. However, there has been little progress in construction work owing to rising material costs. Construction of additional classrooms reportedly remained at the foundational stage, as funds were not released.
Of a total of 2,373 schools, including primary, upper primary and high schools, only 1,937 have drinking water facility. Pipelines are yet to be laid for some schools, while borewells have gone dry.
Even while the ratio of girls attending government schools is going up - not because more girls are entering schools, but because private schools are preferred for boys - schools are not growing gender sensitive.
That lack of functional toilets continues to be a major road block in the education of girls speaks volumes of the status of government schools.
Only 1,062 schools in the district had toilets according to data available till September 2012, though majority of them were not usable. Lack of water supply renders toilets dysfunctional, while maintenance too remains a major issue.
“Most schools do not have watchmen and are occupied by anti-social elements and drunkards during nights. Every morning, we find liquor bottles on the playground, besides untidy toilets. Earlier, villagers had great respect for schools and kept a watch on the premises during the night. Nowadays, schools are least cared for,” laments a teacher from Saroornagar mandal.
Lack of teaching staff is another problem plaguing government schools in remote areas. Nearly 1,500 teacher posts are vacant, most of them in rural schools. With the Vidya Volunteer posts cancelled from this academic year owing to the enforcement of the Right to Education Act, vacancies are set to rise.
A total of 284 schools in the district have been upgraded as SUCCESS schools during 2008-09, with computer education as a mandatory component. But computers are lying idle in most schools for want of qualified teachers and lack of power supply. According to official figures, more than 770 schools in the district are devoid of power supply!
While the Right to Education Act stresses upon inclusive education, and about each school being equipped with facilities for the disabled, over 85 per cent of schools have no ramps for the less advantaged students. All-round development of students is not possible in 1,268 schools which lack playgrounds. Even where play grounds are available, the post of physical instructor is vacant.