Chandigarh (Dr. Abhinav Kalra) -“324 Government Schools in Punjab are without boundary walls. The Department of School Education has requested the concerned Deputy Commissioners to provide support for construction and upkeep of the boundary walls under MGNREGA:
In response to a complaint filed by Advocate H.C. Arora, in the Punjab State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, an affidavit of Gurjit Singh, Assistant Director in the office of Director General School Education, Punjab has been filed. The affidavit states that there are 324 Schools without boundary walls in the State of Punjab. It is further stated in the affidavit that Government of India refused to approve funds for construction of boundary walls under Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan Scheme. Accordingly, the Department of School Education has requested the concerned Deputy Commissioner to provide support for construction and upkeep of boundary walls under MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme).
The affidavit further states that the Department of School Education has written a letter dated 9.1.2020 to all District Education Officers in the State as well as to Principals of Government Schools to take immediate steps to get all the civil works done in the Schools as per the MGNREGA, as may be required, in coordination with Local Authorities including the BDPOs, as well as Panchayats. However, Gurjit Singh has refused to determine an exact time limit within which all construction work will be completed, although it is assured that all sincere efforts are being made to improve the school infrastructure, education quality and welfare of the students by the Department of School Education Punjab. It is further stated in the affidavit that as a matter of fact, a grant of Rs. 75 crore has been released to 10650 schools under Repair and Maintenance Grant (2019-20), which is being used for repair and maintenance of classrooms as well as for repair of boundary walls and buildings of the schools.
The Punjab State Child Right Commission has while its letter dated 18.6.2020, asked the complainant-Advocate to submit his counter, if any, to the affidavit filed by Gurjit Singh. The next date will be notified in due course.
The complainant, in his petition to the Child Right Protection Commission, had enclosed photographs of several Government Schools, where in the absence of boundary wall, animals were straying into the school premises, thereby posing a serious threat to the lives of students.