Notwithstanding the state government's pledge to uplift the standard of schools run by it, students at a senior secondary school here are being forced into menial jobs, thereby defeating the resolve of the authorities to compete with privately-run schools.
Sources and eyewitnesses told Greater Kashmir that due to shortage of sweepers and orderlies at Government Boys Higher Secondary School Kishtwar, the students are made to clean the school premises in blatant violation of norms.
"The students also clean the prayer ground which makes their uniforms very dirty while the much talked about hygiene among the students also suffers badly", the sources said.
"Although a new building has been constructed for the school no sweepers have been engaged for the same", the sources adding that shortage of staff makes the school administration resort to such illegal practice.
"It has become a routine for the students. Though the parents are in know of the fact that their children are made to sweep the school premises, they can hardly do anything as most of them cannot afford to admit their children in private schools", they further said.
Ironically the school is at a stone's throw from the DDC Kishtwar's office and has at least 600 children on its rolls.
Meanwhile, the locals and social activists in this mountainous district have raised their voices against the school authorities. "On one side the government launches education campaigns and, on the other hand, innocent students are forced to sweep the grounds and paint the walls. It is a sin which should not be accepted at any level", said Nasir Hussain, an activist.
When contacted Chief Education Officer Kishtwar, Vinod Kumar Soni said that he has directed the principal of the school to ensure that no students are made to sweep or clean the premises."We will investigate the matter", he said.