As summer approaches, it is becoming difficult for the students of Basic Shiksha Parishad schools to sit in their classrooms in the 40 degree celsius heat. Students ‘fan themselves’ to get relief from the scorching heat, as the fans in the classes have become mere showpieces, because of the lack of power connections.
Teachers and students have no other option, and are bound to spend around five hours in the small congested classrooms. I personally visited some schools in the city, and spoke to the teachers and students to find out how they spent their time in such adverse conditions.
Both the teachers and students readily shared their grievances with me. Moreover, they want to get rid of these issues, so that they can focus on teaching and on studies, instead of brooding about the heat.
While visiting one of the primary schools (located in the heart of the city in Nala Budaan Saiyyed), I found that the teachers and students sat in small classrooms with no ventilation whatsoever and no fans working.
One of the students, Rajveer Singh, stated: “Fans are mere showpieces here. We use textbooks to fan ourselves.” He added that ever since he was admitted to this school, the school hasn’t received any electricity.
As per my sources, the school has been lacking electricity for more than five years. “The school has fans with proper wiring, but it has no power connections. I have also not seen electricity in this school for the past five years,” corroborated Rajeev Verma, the head-teacher of the school.
Nihal Kumar and Krishna, who study in fifth standard and often use their textbooks to fan themselves, expressed that it is difficult for them to sit in the summers, as the rooms are small, compared to the number of students.
The situation was worse in a school in Basai Khurd. One of the head-teachers told me that electricity was supplied to the school only during elections. For the rest of the year, the school has to operate without electricity.
“We have complained about this matter to the concerned officials, but no one cares about it. Officials have ACs and other electronic appliances in their offices – so, why would they care about the poor children?” the teacher stated, angrily.
According to teachers, there is no electricity in Agra’s basic education schools. “There are around 2,086 primary schools and 871 upper primary schools in Agra district. However, there is no electricity in over 75% schools in the city and around 40% of the schools in the rural areas,” said Mohammad Taiyyab Shah, a government teacher in Belanganj School, a basic education school.
The district general secretary of Uttar Pradeshiya Prathmik Shikshak Sangh, Brajesh Dixit, said that most of the schools in Agra district have problems regarding electricity supply. “During the election period, some schools are provided electricity, but after that, they are again without power,” Dixit said.
When contacted, the Additional Basic Shiksha Adhikari (ABSA) Alok Shrivastav said, “I will look into the matter. Electricity has reached in most of the schools, but there may be some wiring-related issues. We will get it checked.”
A clerk at the BSA office, Pradeep Dubey, told me that they have received ₹6,955 per school to install power connections in around 750 schools. “And for another 750 schools, around ₹6,000 per school has been received for wiring and maintenance purposes,” he concluded.