School in thatched hut sums up plight of primary education in Odisha, India (Source: OrissaPost)

BNDP Nalakul project primery school resized School in thatched hut sums up plight of primary education in Odisha, India (Source: OrissaPost)
Bhandaripokhari: A thatched hut with a leaking roof and crumbling walls functions as a primary school in a remote village of Bhadrak district, in a telling example of the doldrums that our primary education – particularly in rural areas – continues to be mired in.
The Kumbharia Project Primary School – located at Kumbharia village under Bhandaripokhari block – resembles more of an abandoned hut than a school. Around 25 children studying here from Classes I to V continue to be the sufferers of a system that accords them little importance.
The wretched condition of the school speaks volumes of the sorry state that primary education finds itself in despite the state and Central governments laying thrust on its development by implementing a host of programmes.
Primary education at several places in the district is either plagued by inadequate infrastructure or shortage of teachers.

The Kumbharia primary school was set up in 2008 with efforts of the villagers, but the government has failed to put necessary infrastructure in place even after eight years. 
The thatched hut accommodates 25 students. Two teachers have been appointed at the school but they find if difficult to teach all students at one place.
The school lacks a kitchen and drinking water supply is non-existent. 
With no furniture, students have to sit on the floor while teachers have to make do with plastic chairs.

Walls have not been plastered while bricks are seen to be crumbling. The hut is in an unsafe condition and unprotected too, in the absence of doors and windows.
Records and other documents of the school are placed by the headmaster in his bags.
As there is no kitchen for the school, mid-day meals are cooked in the open. In rainy season, cook Haras Rout finds it difficult to prepare meals.

“In the rainy season, I face a lot of problems while cooking in the open,” the cook rued. 
The woes of students and teachers multiply when floodwaters from the Baitarani enter the hut, making it impossible for classes to be conducted.
Teachers lament that classes are being held just as a formality, as to expect that children would be able to learn anything of substance in such wretched conditions would be expecting too much.

A villager Nilamani Nayak said the place on which the hut stands – in a low-lying area – was donated by two villagers. “The education department should at least erect a building from which the school can run,” Nayak said. 
Teacher Bhagirathi Sethi said they feel uncomfortable teaching students in such inhospitable conditions.

“The school has no land of its own. A patch of government land is located behind the school. We have applied to the tehsil administration to allot a plot to the school,” headmaster Binod Bihari Barik said.
Locals alleged that the Sarva Sikhhya Abhiyan authorities have turned a blind eye to the deplorable condition of the primary school