While the ongoing London Olympics is creating a huge sporting spirit among children across the world, about 70 percent of government schools in Hyderabad lack basic sports facilities and playgrounds.
School children are paying a heavy price for the burgeoning development in city as the space meant for playgrounds is being encroached by land sharks, one after the other. With the district administration turning a blind eye, huge commercial complexes are replacing the playgrounds.
“Many children go without playing sports during the schooling years. Schools have become a mere teaching shops with no intention for all-round development of students," Muralikrishna, a parent from Balkampet complained.
"It is high time these schools ensured minimum arrangements for children to play,” Lakshmi, another parent said, adding that though a small space was available for children to play at the Government High School in Ameerpet it is now replaced by a concrete structure.
Four new high schools opened in recent years do not have open space even for daily prayers. Officials said they book GHMC playgrounds on a regular basis, where children play sports.
The Hyderabad district education office (DEO) officials told Express that Hyderabad has about 805 government schools that are registered with them. About 100 to 150 schools have become defunct due to lack of admissions over the last few years.
Another 133 government schools are running in rented buildings. The Hyderabad district administration is incurring `20 lakh to `25 lakh expenditure per month for private buildings.
Apart from rented and defunct schools, there are only 500 schools, of which 70 to 80 percent do not have playgrounds and lack sports facilities.
On the one hand the AP Government has been cracking whip on private schools that fail to implement the Right To Education (RTE) Act, and on the other, over 70 percent of the total government schools in the city, managed by Hyderabad District Administration, have failed to meet the mandatory infrastructure norms prescribed under RTE.
A few day ago, chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy said that government wanted to make it mandatory for the school managements to have playground facilities and warned of action against schools if they did not comply.
"The chief minister should first see how many government schools have playground facilities," GHMC TDP floor leader Singireddy Srinivas Reddy said talking to Express.
"A frequent question people ask is why can't we produce sports champions like other countries. There might be many reasons but one common problem is the rapidly growing population in cities which leaves little space for playgrounds in schools," Srinivas Reddy said.
Even the schools that had sprawling premises are now constructing additional classrooms, consequently reducing the play area.
In a city where shopping complexes are preferred to schools, students are losing their right to physical fitness. Compared to the cities, rural schools in the state have more playgrounds as land is easily available there.