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76% Odisha govt school infrastructure in dilapidated state, 'undermine' RTE norms

By Our Representative 

As many as 75.86% (5,421) elementary schools in Odisha do not possess a playground, depriving students of physical activity opportunities. Also, 75.68% (5,408) of schools require minor or major repairing, undermining the norms and standards stipulated in the Right to Education (RTE) Act.
These are some of the findings of a study titled “State of School Infrastructure in Government Elementary Schools in Odisha,” which was conducted by Atmashakti Trust, in collaboration with Odisha Shramajeebee Mancha (OSM) and Mahila Shramajeebee Mancha, Odisha (MSMO).
The study encompassed analysis of 7,146 schools from 98 blocks and 1 Urban Local Body (Bhubaneswar) of 17 districts of the State.
The study, even as alarmingly highlighting a staggering non-compliance with the norms outlined in the RTE Act, said, 8.7% (623) of the surveyed schools have no source of drinking water, depriving students of a basic necessity. Out of 6,523 schools, where there is a source of drinking water facility, 3.66% (239) of schools suffer from severe structural damage, thus not usable.
It asserted, 73.85% (5,277) of schools do not meet the classroom facilities criteria set by the RTE norms and 8.13% (581) of schools lack space for a kitchen, impeding efforts to provide nutritious meals to students. Furthermore, 5.68% (373) schools with kitchen space are fully damaged, exacerbating the situation.
The study revealed, 13.42% (959) of schools do not have toilets, while 18.2% (1,301) schools lack separate toilets for boys and girls. Moreover, 3,197 schools have toilets without any water facility, undermining proper sanitation practices. In addition to that, 860 toilets are fully damaged.
55.89% of schools do not have the required number of teachers as per the mandated norms in the RTE Act
According to the study, 32.26% (2,305) of schools do not have an electricity connection, impeding the use of technology and hindering effective teaching methods. Not only that, 51.25% (3662) schools also do not have computer facilities.
It found, 32.66% (2334) of schools lack a boundary wall, compromising security and safety on school premises. 29.12% (2081) schools do not have a library which is crucial in promoting reading habits, independent learning, and research skills among students. And, 55.89% (3,994) of schools surveyed do not have the required number of teachers as per the mandated norms in the RTE Act.
“These findings emphasize the urgent need for intervention and support to bridge the critical infrastructure gaps prevalent in government elementary schools in Odisha. Therefore, the government must allocate adequate resources and speed up its implementation to ensure that all children receive quality education in an environment conducive to their holistic growth,” urged Mr. Anjan Pradhan, Convener of OSM.
"The school building, including the kitchen space, is in a dilapidated condition that requires immediate repair. With 40 students crammed into a single room, the situation is dire. We have been informing the Block Education Officer about the urgent need for repairs for years, but sadly, the administration continues to ignore our pleas," added Ghenu Gulari, President of the School Management Committee, Bandakatra Primary School, Koraput district.

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