Schools of yesteryears turn into ‘ghost houses’

Many schools of yesteryears have turned into ghost houses in J&K as around 800 such buildings have been abandoned post-rationalisation carried by the department concerned.
Schools of yesteryears turn into ‘ghost houses’
File Photo

Many schools of yesteryears have turned into ghost houses in J&K as around 800 such buildings have been abandoned post-rationalisation carried by the department concerned.

The rationalization— an exercise carried to streamline the disproportionate teacher-student ratio— was started by the then education minister in 2015. However, two years down the line, the department has found no takers for the buildings so abandoned.

Post-rationalisation, such buildings are empty structures with no watch and ward by the department. "If kept together, these 800 structures will form a township, but in school education department these buildings constructed at the cost of crores of rupees have been left marooned despite the passage of over two years," a top official said.

He said the department proposed various initiatives to utilize these buildings, "however there were no takers from the government.

"The department had proposed to handover the buildings to JKBOSE to enable the board to utilize them for their sub-offices, but the initiative did not find favour with the authorities," an official said.

"It was also decided to utilize the buildings within the department and shift ZEO offices operating from rented accommodation, to these buildings," he said.

The official said the then Director School Education Kashmir (DSEK) in 2015 had proposed to start kindergarten classes in these buildings but very few structures were utilized for it.

"Out of 800 building, only a few were utilized," the official said.

As per the official figures, a total of 2406 buildings including over 1500 schools operating from rented buildings, were merged under the rationalisation process in 2015. 

"The merger of the schools caused a surplus staff of 3553 teachers which were later posted in schools having deficiency of teaching staff," the official said.

As per the official figures, 176 government schools in Baramulla, 112 in Kupwara and 20 in Bandipora districts were merged under rationalisation.

Similarly, 131 schools in Anantnag, 269 in Kulgam, 95 in Pulwama and 66 in Shopian districts fell into disuse post-merger.

"As many as 80 buildings in Budgam, 15 in Srinagar and 18 in Ganderbal district were merged as well. There has been no official or class work in these buildings after students were shifted to other schools," the official said.

Minister for education, Syed Muhammad Altaf Bukhari said the department has handed over around 500 out of 800 left out school buildings to social welfare department in March.

"We issued orders to handover 500 out of 800 buildings to them. They (social welfare department) had to do some renovation of these buildings and put them in use but they have not gone ahead with it," the education minister said.

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