But there is little focus on the infrastructure at these schools.
The photograph on the left shows a school in Dindori in Madhya Pradesh.
It shows how classes in this school are held in the open, under the tree shade.
For the last couple of years, the school has been functioning in the open. If there is rain, obviously, classes are suspended.
The local officials say that funds have been sanctioned to build rooms for the school, but the building is yet to be built.
The school earlier functioned from a dilapidated structure. The condition of the structure was so bad, that there was no option but to bring the kids out. Since then, the situation hasn't changed. Children hope that one day they would be able to study in proper rooms.
Government withdrawing from education, health sectors and its impact on society
But this is just an example. Centre and state governments have little focus towards maintaining infrastructure in government schools. Just like hospitals [health], this sector [education] too shows official apathy.
The middle-class [which is vocal] in cities stopped going to government hospitals, and over the years the condition of sarkari hospitals deteriorated. Private hospitals stepped in and the result is that cost of treatment has gone up steeply, and the sufferer is the common man.
Similarly, in the education sector, many people in urban area stopped sending their kids to government schools. But the onus is on government to ensure that its schools that have nominal fee and that cater to poor and under-privileged are run properly.
Poor infrastructure in government schools
The schools that have buildings don't have other facilities. Even in cities, government schools often don't have fans or drinking water. It is common to find that electricity connection is cut because no one bothers to pay the power bill.
In small towns and rural areas, the situation is plain bad. The truth is that a vast majority of Indians, can't afford the fees of private schools. One or two teachers conduct all the classes and teach students together.
The cadre of 'Shiksha Karmis' in MP [education workers, not teachers] has worsened the situation. Their salary structure is so bad that it can hardly inspire a person to take the job. The government came up with this new cadre, so that it didn't have to pay the salary to teachers, which is obviously much higher.
These shikshakarmis get barely Rs 3,000-5,000 per month. Clearly, there is no intention on part of government to improve the state of school education. It is the same situation everywhere. The governments pay little attention to ensure that the 'sarkari schools' are improved and are run efficiently.
[Photo courtesy: Patrika, Hindi newspaper]