Education dept takes U-turn on Velimanna school upgrade

Mohammed Asim, born with 90% disability, has excelled in studies as well as extracurricular activities.

Mohammed Asim, born with 90% disability, has excelled in studies as well as extracurricular activities.  

Jolt to differently-abled Mohammad Asim’s hopes of pursuing studies

The Education Department seems to have gone back on its word more than once on the request to upgrade Government Upper Primary School, Velimanna, Kozhikode, to enable Mohammed Asim, a differently-abled boy from the village who was born with 90% disability, to continue his schooling.

In a reply to a Right to Information Act query in March, the Assistant Education Officer (AEO), Koduvally, had cited his report to the Deputy Director of Education, Kozhikode, recommending upgrading of the school.

The report pointed out that there were no government high schools in Omassery grama panchayat in which Velimanna falls. The nearest aided higher secondary school, St. Mary’s Higher Secondary School, Koodathayi, is 5 km away, and the nearest government higher secondary school, Government Higher Secondary School, Karuvanpoyil, in Koduvally muncipality, is 8 km away. Holy Family High School, Venappara, another high school in the panchayat, is 10 km away.

The report said Omassery grama panchayat was willing to hand over a mini-stadium spreading over 1 acre in its possession to develop infrastructure for future requirements. The PTA of the school had also proposed to take over another two-and-a-half acres.

If the school is upgraded as a high school this academic year, classes could be held in the five new classrooms, the construction of which was then in the final stages. If more space is required, the vacant rooms in a nearby madrassa too can be used without rent.

The report also cited the resolutions passed by the grama panchayat and the Kozhikode district panchayat seeking upgrading of the school. The AEO claimed that it would help not only Asim, but also other students from weaker sections of society, including those from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes colonies, to pursue studies till Class 10.

However, when a plea for the purpose was later filed by Asim, the PTA, and a local action committee in the Kerala High Court, the department cited the possible financial liabilities the upgrading would incur, such as construction of new classrooms, creation of facilities, and appointment of more staff.

But the single judge directed the department to upgrade the school on humanitarian grounds, while dismissing 133 similar pleas to upgrade schools from across the State. Even after this, Asim’s parents and the PTA functionaries claimed, senior officials had told them that they would not go on an appeal against the order. That promise too was not kept as the appeal was filed before a Division Bench, which stayed the order earlier this week.

Education Department officials were not available for comments.

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Printable version | Jun 4, 2020 6:13:40 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/education-dept-takes-u-turn-on-velimanna-school-upgrade/article24490176.ece

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