Students of the state-aided Parsudih Madhya Vidyalaya near Jamshedpur have reasons to celebrate Republic Day this year.
The days of learning in unsafe conditions with gaping holes in the classroom ceilings, peeling plaster, no lights, fans or drinking water or toilets, would be a thing of the past by May this year. The groundbreaking ceremony for the school's renovation will take place on January 26.
Round Table India through its Jamshedpur chapter ' Jamshedpur Green Steel Round Table ' will start renovating the 45-year-old school, just 8km from the steel city, at an estimated cost of Rs 18 lakh under its Freedom through education programme.
Jamshedpur Green Steel Round Table had approached the district education department after The Telegraph on July 18 in its report 'Grin and bear broken roof for free lunch', highlighted the perennial risk of injury faced by the 45 students of the middle school, as chunks of the ceiling crashed regularly.
"We approached the additional district project officer for Jharkhand Education Project (JEP) Prakash Kumar after knowing that the school management committee was unable to carry out repairs and provide basic amenities like water and toilets. We wanted to get the authentic land records of the school from the district administration for sanction of the project from our headquarters at Chennai," said Jamshedpur Green Steel Round Table official Rajesh Kumar Tulsyan.
The district education department got in touch with the school management committee who coordinated with Round Table officials in arranging the land documents from Chaibasa in West Singhbhum.
They got hold of the land records and fulfilled the necessary legal formalities with the school managing committee in October last year and sent the complete documents for sanction to Round Table India headquarters in November. The project was sanctioned in the first week of January.
"We got in touch with an architect for making a blueprint and are finally ready to start construction work from January 27 after the groundbreaking ceremony on January 26," added Tulsyan.
At the moment, students are packed like sardines in two of the safer classrooms ' children of Classes I to IV in one, students of Classes V to VIII in another ' as the remaining six rooms are too unsafe for use. Even the two "usable" classes have chunks of the ceilings missing.
The students mainly come for the midday meals. All 45 are from needy homes where a free hot lunch counts. This school gets a packed midday meal from the centralised kitchen service, a collaboration of Tata Steel, Iskcon Food Relief Committee and the state government.
The hot lunch is the sole compensation for the rains that pour inside the classrooms, the blazing summer when children are forced to bring gamchhas to cover their heads and the winter chill that seeps through the ramshackle building.
Round Table would not only oversee the school construction work, but would also be donating stationery to the students and would coordinate with the school managing committee for proper maintenance of infrastructure.