By Rajesh Behera
Kendrapara: The State government has been providing lakhs of rupees to every district under the Sarva Sikhya Abhijan (SSA) for the required infrastructure to provide better education to school students. But the state of the Mandalapara Project Primary School in Mahakalapada Block in Kendrapara district makes one wonder where exactly is SSA money spent.
The school has been functioning in a thatched house built in a paddy field. One has to walk through a narrow muddy road, which looks like the dikes of an agricultural field, to reach the school.
Students have to go to the school in knee deep rain water as the school in the paddy field remains inundated for much of the rainy season.
The students are also deprived of Mid-Day Meal (MDM) due to the lack of a kitchen room in the school, which was set up more than a decade ago.
Locals allege that the two teachers – the Headmaster and a Ganasikhyak – are highly irregular.
The students are well aware that the thatched house could cave in any time, but have no choice but to go to the school as there is no other school nearby.
“We know that we do not have a school building and the thatched house could collapse over is any time. But we do not have any other option to pursue our studies. We lack everything from school building to road connectivity and from unavailability of MDM to absence of the teachers,” said one of the students.
According to Upendra Singh, the headmaster of the school, a villager had provided the land for construction of school building. The District Education Department had provided a sum of Rs 4.80 lakh to set up a school building in 2008.
The then Headmaster of the school Parimal Bal had also brought raw materials for the construction of the building. Even a tube well was dug on the said land. But unfortunately, one group of the village looted the raw materials. The district administration failed to take any action against the looters.
The villagers and the School Managing Committee members had drawn the attention of the Block Education Officer (BEO) and District Education Officer (DEO), besides the District Collector, to the matter. But nothing came out of these efforts.
“While the state government has been setting up Adarsha Vidyalayas and CBSE-affiliated English Medium schools in several districts of the state with an aim to ensure free education and all facilities like mid-day meal, uniform and textbooks free of cost like other state government-run schools, it is very unfortunate that a decade long Mandalapara Primary School has been deprived of infrastructure,” rued another resident.