GUWAHATI: Even as educational facilities available to students in schools remain a perpetual issue of concern across the country, the Assam government has admitted to its crumbling infrastructure in the sector.
Assam’s education minister Ranoj Pegu has written to all the MLAs in the state to “inspire” people to provide amenities such as desks, benches, fans and water filters, etc to the state-run schools in their respective constituencies to improve the conditions there. The letter has now attracted widespread criticism for the state government.
“…some schools in your constituency are functioning without amenities… These are of utmost importance for a proper teaching-learning environment. Although the state government is ensuring the schools have these facilities, there is now a crisis of funds to fulfil the needs and it will take time to address the problem….,” Pegu wrote in the letter to the MLAs.
“Therefore, I request you to inspire the donors and patrons you know to provide desks, benches, fans, water filters and other amenities to the schools,” the letter added.
The minister said the furniture and other items can be provided to the schools directly or through the “Vidyanjali 2.0” programme.Some MLAs expressed surprise after receiving the letter because the government is successfully implementing some populist schemes.
After the letter triggered a storm, Pegu denied that the government is facing any financial difficulties as “inadvertently” mentioned in the letter. He said the schools get composite grants from the government but they are never sufficient.
The Congress said the letter exposed the state’s precarious financial position. The minority-based party, All India United Democratic Front, said the education minister has told the truth. The All Assam Students’ Union slammed the government on the issue. Its general secretary Shankar Jyoti Baruah said teachers had also received a similar letter from the inspectors of schools.
“The teachers’ responsibilities have increased. They will now have to look for people who can donate fans, water filters etc,” Baruah said.