Crumbling futures: Students make narrow escape as classroom roof caves in

Due to the safety hazards, classes are being conducted in corridors

Saba Naz January 23, 2019
A part of the roof of a classroom caved in at the Government Boys Primary Usman Jutt School. Despite repeated requests by the school administration, the education department has turned a blind eye to the students’ plight. PHOTOS: EXPRESS

KARACHI: Students of class IV of the Government Boys Primary Usman Jutt School, Bin Qasim Town, Malir narrowly escaped when the plaster that, after weeks of [literally] hanging over the students' heads, finally fell off the roof on Monday.  The crumbling cement and plaster from the roofs of the school has become a danger to the lives of the 227 students studying there. After the peeling plaster fell off, the students, left horrified, refused to sit in the classroom.  The condition of the school is deteriorating while the students are taking classes sitting in the corridors because of the falling rubbles from the roofs.

There were five classrooms in the school building initially but eventually with deteriorating conditions, only one room is now usable - which is currently being used as the staffroom. The roof of class 1 has completely collapsed while the condition of other classrooms remains extremely worn out. The school management claims to have complained to the district officers several times but no response has come yet.

The school is built on an area of 200 to 300 yards, in which around 227 students are enrolled. The story of the school's deterioration does not end here. The school neither has clean drinking water for students nor a sports ground. For the past one year, the school is out of electricity. According to sources in the school, a man came around two months ago who claimed to be a contractor and said that the school should be vacated for reconstruction but nobody ever visited the school after that.

The school management said that another man came earlier this week and introduced himself as an electrician sent by the government engineering department. However, he went back after seeing the condition of the school saying that electricity work couldn't be done in the present condition of the building.

One of the teachers at the school told The Express Tribune that the district officer and officials of the education department have been informed about these conditions time and again but no response is ever given. The number of student enrolments is decreasing day by day due to the brittleness of the building.

Basic facilities of clean drinking water and washrooms are also not to be found because of which, not only students but teachers also face inconvenience.  The principal of the school, Fareeda, told The Express Tribune, that she took over the office just a year ago and wasn't aware of the budget allocation. She said she got the orders to vacate the school two days ago but there was no written order nor was it possible to shift the students in a day's time.

Previously, the school was given to the Indus Reserve Centre (IRC) by the Sindh School Education Foundation (SEF), according to the adoption policy, the purpose of which was to improve the structure and quality of education. But due to the continuously worsening conditions and unsatisfactory performance of IRC, SEF had ended the adoption policy in 2015-2016.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 23rd, 2019.

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