It was their first day at school after the summer break and the state government had mandated that all schools should give their students a warm and cheerful welcome. But Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC)-run Sant Gadgebaba School chose to greet its 550 Urdu students with a rude shock – it had no room for them. The students found their classrooms taken over by the English medium section and were forced to begin their academic year huddled on the floor of the school’s hallway.
What is strange in this fiasco is that everybody who should be able to offer clarity on what happened seemed to be clueless. “We had no prior notice. The English medium school, which was only up to Class VII has been extended to Class VIII. To accommodate the extra classes, they took over our classrooms,” said Shaheen Khan, senior teacher at the Urdu school.
It may recalled that Pune Mirror had reported on April 26, 2015 about the plans of the Kondhwa school to relocate its Urdu section to another building 5kms away, much to the consternation of the parents. In the face of their protests, the PMC education board withheld its decision to move the section. Subsequently, work on the new building was also stalled. So, the students returned to their old school when it reopened on Monday, only to find their seven classes taken — either by other students of the English medium section or turned into storerooms.
The Urdu section that had classes right from kindergarten to Class VII, used to occupy the first floor of the three-storeyed building. But on Monday, their territory was completely invaded, with two of the classrooms serving as storage space. After much fighting, the Urdu students were allowed to enter their classrooms, only they had to share them with students of the English medium section. This only made for chaotic teaching sessions.
“This is complete callousness. We were shocked to find no room for our kids in the school,” thundered Ibrahim Khan, a parent whose children study in Class II and V. Similarly, another parent, Fakruddin Shaikh, who is also a member of the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) recounted, “We were aware that the work on the new building had been stopped after our protests and were promised that classes would resume at the old place. So, we did not anticipate this.”
“Mysteriously, even teachers of the Urdu section seemed to have been caught off-guard by the situation. How can such a decision be taken without consulting the authorities of the Urdu section or the parents?” asked Wasaf Mujawar, another parent. The parents said that they have collectively sent a complaint to the PMC education board on this.
Interestingly, Monday’s events came as news to even Pradeep Dhumal, chairman of the PMC education board. There is a plan to shift one section of the school, but no decision has been taken on which one that will be —English or Urdu. As of now, Urdu is to continue at its original place. I will immediately inquire into the matter,” he told Mirror.
But this is not very convincing for all. Abid Shaikh, Pune president of the Movement of Peace and Justice, an NGO helping the parents, noted, “This comes through as a pressure tactic to rid the school of its Urdu section.”
Pune Mirror, “There’s no room for Urdu at this school,” in Pune Mirror, June 16, 2015. Accessed on June 16, 2015, at: http://www.punemirror.in/pune/civic/Theres-no-room-for-Urdu-at-this-school/articleshow/47680827.cms
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