JAMMU: An estimated 50 per cent of the 16.5 lakh students enrolled in Jammu and Kashmir government schools sit on the floor in their classrooms that have no benches and desks, a memo submitted by the education department to the government said.
“Besides, hundreds of schools are without electricity and regular water supply,” reads the memo that has requested the State Administrative Council for funding to strengthen infrastructure in schools.
According to official figures, of the 23,773 schools, at least 17,901 are without electricity, 17,167 without boundary walls, 17,112 without playgrounds, and 26,000 toilet units and lavatories in schools are in a dilapidated condition.
Nearly 1000 girls’ schools have no toilets. “Budgetary allocation for infrastructure development in the education sector is meagre as the major chunk of the grants goes into paying salaries of government teachers,” said a senior education department official.
He said that recently the State Administrative Council allocated Rs 100 crore for purchasing furniture and Rs 45 crore for ensuring regular water and electricity supply in the government schools.
“Inadequate infrastructure in schools is a big barrier to enrollment and participation. The overcrowded spaces lacking adequate sanitary facilities and water for hygiene not only result in dropouts but also have health implications. Girls in particular are pushed out of school if facilities are inadequate,” he said and added that people in rural areas do realise the importance of education but not all of them can afford private-school education for their children.
“That is why ill-equipped government schools are their only option,” he said.