DARINGIBADI (KANDHAMAL): Even after 17 years of implementation of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), the flagship programme aimed at achieving universal elementary education, many schools continue to lack basic facilities. The primary school at Baligeda village under Budaguda gram panchayat in Daringibadi block of Kandhamal district is a glaring example.
As many as 33 students are enrolled in Classes I to V of the school which lacks a building of its own. As per reports, a building for the school was constructed more than two decades ago. However, the building gradually got damaged due to lack of maintenance and repair and subsequently, collapsed around five years back.
On the other hand, lack of a building has not deterred teachers from discharging their duties. The two teachers of the school use verandas of different houses in the village to take classes. Touched by their sincerity, villagers repaired a cowshed and handed it over to the school authorities for conducting classes. For more than a year, the school has been functioning in the cowshed.
School headmaster Prahalad Kumar Sahu said, “We have never neglected our duties and also not allowed students to suffer due to lack of classrooms. Though the authorities concerned have been apprised of the sorry state of affairs in the school, no action has been taken.”
Bhagabati Prasad Sabat, a local, said when there are no classrooms, getting a place to store rice and other commodities for Mid-Day Meals (MDM) is a distant dream. While the MDM is being cooked in the open, students are served their lunch outdoors. This apart, as water from the lone tube-well in the village emanates foul smell, the students are unwilling to use it. Instead, they collect water from an open pit which makes them vulnerable to various diseases.
Villagers alleged that funds for construction of classrooms should have been released had the spot earmarked for the school building not set aside for setting up a community toilet. They further said despite repeated missives, no official or even the elected representatives have cared to visit the village.