Mangaluru: In the face of growing worries about the safety of students in classrooms, the upsetting reality that over half of the buildings holding schools in the coastal district of Dakshina Kannada are not encircled by solid compound walls has outraged parents and activists.
Data gathered by TOL reveals that 165 schools, including 131 state-run institutions, lack compound walls out of the district’s 1,790 government, private-aided, and private-unaided schools. Only 904 buildings have strong cement or concrete walls enclosing them, while 585 simply have partial walls, and the rest 49 are only surrounded by barbed wire fencing.
More than 60% of schools in Dakshina Kannada are state-run, and it is in these schools that the bulk of pupils are educated. 34, or slightly more than 3%, of the district’s state-run schools have perimeter walls made of concrete. But at some of the schools, even these cement walls had cracks in them. In contrast, 538 buildings are just partially surrounded by the barrier, while 318 schools are completely fenced in and secured. Thank goodness, ten schools have had compound walls built by the authorities.
The state of both privately assisted and unassisted institutions serves as a stark contrast to government officials’ complacent attitude. Only 17 of the 293 private-aided institutions lack solid enclosures, while 222 have cement or pucca boundary walls and 13 have barbed-wire fences around them. 333 of the 391 private institutions that are unaided are enclosed by sturdy compound walls.
Mohiuddin Kutty, president of the Karnataka SDMC Coordination Committee, acknowledged that the situation wasn’t perfect but asserted that many schools in the district were better safeguarded than they were a few years ago.
Using funds earmarked for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, work on the construction of compound walls for schools has been done. The lack of a compound wall is not a grave concern in schools in villages, but it is a serious issue at those located in urban centres, where there is the danger of children straying into congested roads unnoticed. Alongside the construction of compound walls, the government must look into upgrading infrastructure at schools. Kutty stated.
According to one teacher, the wall was only built in front of a few schools.