UP: Primary School Students Without New Books and Uniforms, Asked to Wait Till August
Lucknow: The new academic session of Uttar Pradesh Basic Education Board schools began on June 16, but five days after the 2022-23 session, the students are yet to get free textbooks and uniforms. The books will become available only by August, say officials in the know about it.
Tenders for publishing the textbooks to around 1.90 crore students of classes I-VIII enrolled in more than 1.50 lakh primary and upper primary schools of the state are still under process.
As per the short-term tender document dated April 18, 2022, floated by the state government, e-bid submissions can take place till noon on May 4 following which the opening of the technical e-bids would take place on the same day at 1 pm at the directorate of basic education located at Nishatganj in Lucknow.
A senior basic education department official, on the condition of anonymity, told NewsClick that if the tender gets finalised this month, the books are expected to be received only by the first week of August and the workbooks by the first week of September.
After the completion of the tender process, all the books will be sent to the districts in around three months, but the workbooks may reach the districts in four months, a concerned official said.
RK Singh, a Basic Shiksha Adhikari (BSA) based in Gorakhpur, the home district of state chief minister Yogi Adityanath, said that distribution of copy-books and uniforms is the priority of the government in the new session. Headquarters has been informed in this regard.
"Until the new books and uniforms are not available to the children, children are being taught from old books, handed over by the senior students promoted in the next class."
Meanwhile, Sarvendra Vikram Bahadur Singh, director (basic education), has asked basic )shiksha adhikaris (education officers) to collect old textbooks from students promoted to the next classes and distribute the same to students who have joined their classes this session as a make-do arrangement till new books become available.
NewsClick spoke with at least half a dozen students and their parents in different districts to understand the ground reality,
Namit Maurya and his two siblings started attending classes on June 16, but all of them have been told that new books and copies will be received in August. Till then, they will have to learn their lessons from old books.
"I am promoted to class VI this year. I was excited to get new books and dresses, but my teachers told me it would still take two months for the new books to come. I have borrowed books from one of the seniors from the same village, but I want new books as soon as possible," Maurya told NewsClick.
Several students in the rural areas, in conversation with NewsClick, demanded that the government also provide nutritious breakfast in the morning before classes begin, besides the regular mid-day meal. They also said that the government should focus on the infrastructure of schools, which includes proper toilets, fans and benches.
However, Yogi Adityanath's promise to transfer Rs 1,100 to parents for the purchase of school uniforms, sweaters, shoes, socks, and bags through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) seems a distant dream for the students.
This was the situation when the CM launched the School Chalo Abhiyan in April to ensure 100% enrolment at primary and upper primary schools in the state.
While distributing education kits containing school bags, shoes and socks, a football and books to five newly enrolled students and hearing aids and Braille kits to three physically challenged students, he encouraged teachers to register every child to school and provide them with basic facilities like free uniforms, books, bags, shoes, socks and sweaters, etc.
However, the ground reality tells a grim story of primary school in the state where students are attending new sessions without new uniforms and books.
"The government is playing with the future of children. The CM boasts about the education system at government schools and how students are getting enrolled in a big number after his government came to power in 2017. Still, the reality is that they are being forced to study without books for three to four months. The tender process, which began in April 2022 after the state Assembly and MLC polls, should have been done in December 2021. But they were busy in the elections," Ajit Prakash, an activist working among vulnerable sections to provide free books and uniforms to children, told NewsClick.
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