The government schools in Belagal village in the Bagalkot district lack the basic necessary facilities of electricity, clean drinking water and washrooms. The children studying in the school sit on the floor near the doors as sunlight is the only source of light. Visibility in the classrooms for both the teachers and the students is quite low due to lack of proper tube lights or bulbs.
The basic facility of clean drinking water is not available at the schools. The children in the schools drink the untreated tap water to quench their thirst. The absence of toilets results in open defecation near the school premises. This leads to spread of diseases which when treated at government hospitals cost a lot.
Sangamesh Banakar, the Panchayat Development Officer at the Panchayat Office said, ‘Washrooms are in the process of being built. There are separate washrooms for boys and girls. The shudhganga plant for drinking water is used for drinking water in the Panchayat. Sometimes children come here and drink water’.
Swapna Mallapa, a teacher in the government school says, ‘There is no sufficient place to build buildings and toilets there. By doing different interesting activities in the schools, teachers make students come to school regularly. Ultimately, the reason for all this is poverty’.
The funds provided by the Central and State government for these government schools are not sufficient for the school infrastructure and other necessities as well.
Though the children are receiving education at the government schools but the lack of funds does not allow the schools to function properly. The funds are not provided by the government all at a time. The schools receive them in instalments.
Mr Chittapur says, ‘We are supposed to get Rs 50,000 a year for maintenance of the school, out of which we have received funds for the first term, that is, Rs 25,000. We are yet to receive the second half. We are allotted funds based on how many students attend the school’.
Shrisail S. Biradar, the Educational Official at the Deputy Director of Public Instructions said the funds provided to the government school for the food and mid-day meals are not according to the diet plans. They are instead decided by the government.
The mid-day meal scheme is supposed to have dal, vegetables, rice/wheat and proteins in a set quantity entitled by the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). The students at the government school are getting only sambhar and rice and no other food which completes the diet as mentioned by the authorities for the mid-day meal.
Associations and committees are set up to keep a watch on all of this in government schools. They are supposed to manage financial as well as other responsibilities as authorities.
Ms Mallapa says, ‘The School Management Committee must take proper action. Their team is supposed to take the necessary proper action’.
Government schools in some villages do not receive necessary attention and ample amount if funds. The reason for this indifference is mainly the villages being very old and far from the main taluk.
Rajagopal, a teacher at HPS, Belagal, says, ‘There was a flood in the village on 9 September 2019 which led to people’s houses filled up with water. The water damaged the houses of around 80 – 100 families. The village people were provided shelter and food in our school. At that time, no compensation or monitory assistance was provided by the government’.
The Indian state of Karnataka received heavy rainfall compared to what it normally received in the previous months of 2019. The flooding of river Prabha led to substantial damage to the school infrastructure.
Gururaj Y. Dashyal, the Block Education Officer in Hungund said, ‘Samudaya Bhavan’s, SDMCs, student committees and alumni are all donating funds and helping our schools in terms of welfare. But one problem is that there is a shortage of funds and we will write to the panchayats to allot us more funds for the right usage. Clean drinking water is available to high schools only, which we are trying to make accessible to all schools, LPS and HPS’.
Though new schemes and initiatives are being introduced but they are not being implemented properly. The state government officials at higher levels have to work in coordination with the taluk and panchayat heads so that the situation of government schools improve.