DINDIGUL: A portion of the dilapidated ceiling of Vedasandur Government Higher Secondary School caved in on Saturday. Luckily, the children escaped unharmed, but the incident angered the parents of the students in the district.
Sources said around 860 students from class IX to XII study in the Vedasandur Government Higher Secondary School. Since the COVID-19 protocol, the students are divided into two batches; half (nearly 400) attend the classes every day.
On Saturday, students took it to the knowledge of the teacher that the plaster of the ceiling was peeling off and was falling on the students. A total of 20 students accommodated in the classroom were alarmed, and the teachers immediately vacated the classroom. Later, a portion of the ceiling caved in.
On condition of anonymity, a parent said, "Our children had a close shave from what could have been a catastrophic incident. Since we could not afford education in a private school, we are left with no other option but to send our kids to the nearby government schools. Let alone the basic facilities, there is no safety for life for students in this school as the infrastructure is poor."
According to the parents, the students were shifted from one classroom (in a much worse condition) to the other (the one where the ceiling caved in) on Saturday. "As there is not enough facility, the students are made to sit in different classrooms every day. If they get lucky, they are safe," they added.
Headmistress of the school, one R Nagarani, said the school has two campuses -- one for classes IX to XII (860 students) and the other for classes VI to VII (450 students). While the former has only 22 classrooms in usable condition, the latter has 12 classrooms.
"After the classes commenced for students of class IX to XII, we have accommodated them in labs and other possible rooms, since many classrooms have no lights, let alone facilities. It has been six years since I took charge as the head, and I have been sending posts seeking funds for renovation. We recently plastered the ceiling of the classroom with cement, as there were some cracks. Due to continuous rains, there have been cracks again leading to the incident," said Nagarani.
Chief Educational Officer S Karuppasamy told The New Indian Express that the maintenance works of the school building are under Public Works Department's control. "We have not received the funds from the School Education Department yet. Once they release the funds, we would recommend the renovation works for the school to the PWD," he added.
Collector S Visakan said a proposal was being prepared for improving infrastructure for both hospitals and schools in the district. "Wherever there is need for improvement, it will be sorted out through PWD," he added.