55-yr-old school reflects state, DGHC neglect

Statesman News Service
KALIMPONG, April 26. — The Tricolour has lost its radiance at the entrance and so has the appearance of the whole complex. Taps are running dry, windowpanes are broken, locked laboratories, unused for decades, are full of spider webs. This is what the Kalimpong Government High School looks like.
Established in 1951, it is the only entirely government-sponsored co-educational institution in the sub-division and the third of its kind in the district. Gripped by its share of tribulations, the school has certainly not been able live up to expectations. The finger of blame is being pointed at the state and the DGHC of never actually being serious about its problems.
“We are facing an acute shortage of teachers, presently only 40, to teach 500 students,” the principal, Mr PC Pradhan said. Now secondary (from Class VI to Class X), and as the name suggests, the KGHS once offered higher secondary education. Due to lack of senior teachers, the higher secondary section was closed in 1990, informed Mr Pradhan.
“The HS section can be reinitiated which would benefit many students from economically poor families. But new teachers have to be appointed,” the principal added. It was learnt that 12 teaching posts (to be appointed via the Public Service Commission) are lying vacant.
School sources said that the budget prepared by the school is submitted to the state education department every year, but since the secondary education is a transfer subject to the DGHC, the Council blocks the released funds.
“We are caught in a Catch-22 situation,” a Hindi teacher, Mr ML Sharma, who has been here since 1971, said.
The present condition is a confirmation of things not heading in the right direction. Students are cramped in classrooms due to shortage of desks, a shaky ceiling (a house for pigeons) which might fall any time are only some of the problems.
“There is only DGHC-appointed woman casual worker for cleaning such a big school. Besides, the whole complex has not been renovated for a decade now. Forget the other problems like the phone line being disconnected for non-payment of bills,” quipped Mr Pradhan. “No group C staff has been appointed for the past five years now. Group D staff are managing most of the work,” he said.
The school, originally spread over an area of 5 acre has now been reduced to a mere three acre thanks to encroachments. “We have written to administration officials, including the SDO, several times but to no avail,” Mr Pradhan said.
“One of the tutor has not received his salary for the last three months. The DGHC has not even approved his appointment. The teacher came here after having passed the PSC exam. He is returning tomorrow. It’s sad that the DGHC is fiddling with the future of our society,” sources close to the school administration said.
While the director of school education (state), Mr SK Ghosh, could not be contacted, the education secretary (DGHC), Mr CT Bhutia, termed the blocking of the salaries of two teachers (another of Darjeeling) a “policy matter”. When asked about the blockade of funds by the DGHC, Mr Bhutia said: “Funds meant for the school are being looked after by the finance department of the Council.”

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