ASSAM EDUCATION WOES II
By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, May 9: Not only has Assam Education department – headed at different times by big-shot political leaders like Himanta Biswa Sarma, Ripun Bora, Pankaj Bora, Dr Bhumidhar Barman and Sarat Barkataky – failed to address the acute shortage of school teachers over the years, it has also left the infrastructure in utter shambles, with shoddy school buildings lacking even basic amenities like drinking water.
According to a District Information System for Education (DISE) report, there are 47,792 lower primary and upper primary government and provincialized schools in Assam. Of these, 5,445 schools do not have any drinking water facility at all. Some 7,266 others had such facilities once, but gone defunct now.
The condition is worse at Barak Valley. Hailakandi (796), Karimganj (625) and Cachar (648) tops the list of districts with maximum number of schools without drinking water facilities. Even in Kamrup (metro), there are 82 LP and UP schools where students have no way of getting clean water to drink.
Cachar also has 739 schools where drinking water facilities are lying defunct. Goalpara has 527 such schools, followed by Karimganj (516). In 127 schools in Kamrup (metro) and 289 schools in Kamrup, the facilities are defunct, according to the 2014-15 DISE report.
The State’s Public Health Engineering department, Education department and Sarba Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) are responsible for setting up the amenities in schools.
Studies have indicated that children do not drink sufficient water during school hours, which is one of the body’s most essential requirements. In absence of facilities within school premises, some children take recourse to drink from unsafe sources, risking their health.
In October, 2012, the Supreme Court directed all the states and the Central government to provide basic infrastructure such as drinking water, toilets and boundary walls in about 688,000 primary and 110,000 secondary government-run schools.
Giving a deadline of six months to complete the job, a bench led by Justice KS Radhakrishn had asked governments to take proactive steps and fulfill its constitutiol obligation for ensuring best possible education to children, a fundamental right under the Right to Education Act.