Umaisar Gull Ganie
Anantnag, Nov 28: Despite being in the 21st Century, the School Education Department in the Kashmir zone managing 150 schools in Southern districts of Kashmir from rented accommodations due to absence of proper school buildings, figures accessed by news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), revealed Tuesday.
Officials available with the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO) suggest that there are total 3622 schools in the entire South Kashmir range in which Anantnag district holds the highest number of schools in operation in Southern districts of Anantnag, Kulgam, Pulwama and Shopian.
“There are 1537 government schools in Anantnag district, 773 in Kulgam, 892 in Pulwama, and 520 in the Shopian district,” figures state, adding that “Out of the total 3622 schools in South Kashmir, 150 schools are still operating in rented accommodations. Fourteen (14) schools are in Shopian, 79 in Anantnag district, 20 in Kulgam and 35 in the Pulwama district.”
An official, wishing not to be named, said that many rented schools lack essential facilities, hindering students from participating in extracurricular activities.
He said the rented buildings often have broken windows, damaged roofs, and worn-out walls, leaving students without basic amenities and advanced resources like laboratories.
“The lack of government property status for these buildings prevents the provision of necessary facilities by the education department,” the official said.
The Government Primary School at Banipath Kanchloo area of Kund in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district operates in a rented space with six classes.
“Despite a decade-old establishment and a previously damaged building, it now functions from a single room. We labourers facing economic challenges have no choice but to send our children there, as we can’t afford private schools,” said Muhammad Iqbal, a local resident.
He said that the owner of the rented space has not received any rent for 13 years.
Talking to KNO, a senior officer at DSEK said that efforts are underway to provide schools with their own buildings instead of relying on rentals.
He said that only schools with limited enrolment and no available land are currently in rented spaces.
The officer assured that the department is aware of the situation, actively making land available, and soon constructing new buildings for these schools to ensure they are well-equipped with basic facilities.
Repeated attempts to reach out to Director School Education, Kashmir, Tassaduq Hussain didn’t fructify—(KNO)