Infrastructure may not have been a strong point of schools in Gujarat. However, figures thrown up by a recent study do not fail to shock. The study carried out by NGO Navsarjan in 182 schools of 35 talukas in 10 districts has thrown up some interesting facts about the status of education in these places. Conducted during July-August 2013, the survey found that there were just 481 toilets in the 182 schools. This means on an average each school had just three toilets! It also found that 13 schools had no toilet facility for the children. The survey covered the primary schools in these places, each having over 100 children on an average.
The survey further found that 42 schools had no library while 70 lacked a laboratory. Thirty schools had no playground. It also found that other than class I which had on an average one teacher for every 29 students, the RTE-mandated ratio of 1:30 was not maintained in any other class.
Another interesting revelation was that in many schools, the school management committee (SMC) was formed only on paper, with most failing to even pass the budget. “In some schools, the management committee was made up of just teachers and panchayat members with no representation from parents. In others, there were no women members,” said an official of Navsarjan who worked on the survey.
Commenting on the status of SMCs and education in general, Manjula Pradeep of Navsarjan said that overall education ranks lower in the priority list of the government. “You can see it in the budget allotted for education. In public schools, there is poor commitment on the part of both government officials as well as the parents. This is because in most of the cases only the poor access public schools and those who can afford it move to private schools,” said Pradeep.
She said that lack of a playground, laboratory and library affects the overall affects the overall development of a child. “It is not just a matter of government providing the facilities. Even parents and the gram sabha fail to take interest in these matters. This survey is just about the infrastructure. What the students learn in these schools is an altogether different story. We get primary students in our schools who have on paper passed class 5 but can barely read and write,” said Pradeep.
Agrees Ganshyam Shah, former professor at JNU. “Primary education is not the priority for the state. If you don’t accept that there is a problem, how will you solve it? However, in terms of infrastructure we are better off than many, if not all, states in the country,” said Shah. He was quick to add that what little bit the state scored in terms of infrastructure, it lost out completely in quality.
“We are not talking about comparing our quality of education with that of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
We are worse than even UP and Bihar as far as quality of primary education is concerned,” said Shah.
The survey was conducted by NGO Navsarjan across 10 districts in the state
182 Total schools covered
35 Total talukas covered
42 No library
70 No laboratory
30 No playground
Survey period: July-August 2013.