Where students jostle for breathing space

Nepalgunj, August 24:

Altogether 256 students are putting up in a classroom that was never meant to accommodate more than 50 students. Welcome to grade six of Saraswati secondary school in Baijapur of Bhawaniyapur in Banke district.

Here, the 256 students fight for breathing space in a classroom that can hardly house one-fifth of their number. Acting principal Seti Ram Gosain told this daily: “What to do? There are not enough rooms in the school building and the number of students in grade six is legion. We have no option.”

Nine to 10 students sit jam-packed on a bench meant for not more than five. Some sit on windowsills. Others not so lucky squat around the feet of the teacher. Gosain said grade six has the maximum number of students while grade nine has 109 students in one classroom.

The education department has set the number of maximum students in

one classroom at 50, principal Gosain admitted adding that there was no option as there were no means of increasing the number of classrooms.

“Until the weather improves, we cannot do anything. Later, we will hold classes in the open air. Then, the problem of space will be solved.”

Creaking under the rigours of a surfeit of students, the school is also facing a shortage of teachers. Two teachers provided according to the government quota are shouldering the burden of teaching as far as possible. There are no teachers for English or Mathematics. But, it is teachers meant for the primary level who are teaching in this secondary school. Acting principal Gosain himself is a teacher sent by the government on quota basis. He fills in for the English teacher.

School management committee chairman Tulsiram Tharu said the committee has issued repeated appeals to the government and non-governmental organisations for help to increase the number of classrooms in the school building. Tharu added that for want of resources and the fact that the school headmaster Chandrajit Chaudhary was in jail for alleged embezzlement, the school was finding it difficult to generate resources to appoint more teachers or even pay the salary of the existing ones.

Over 1,500 students

are enrolled in the school. Two teachers at the secondary level, three at the lower secondary level, nine at the primary level and one in the relief quota comprise the 15 teachers in the school.

According to the education department rules, there should be no less than five teachers at the secondary level and four at the lower secondary level.