No students in this school: Sanskrit institute with four teachers in dire straits

From a distance, this government-run Sanskrit school in Sikar district of Rajasthan appears like any other run-down school with the building in need of paint. But once you enter the premises, it becomes clear that something else is amiss. The school is erringly quiet – there are no children on the small playground or, for that matter, in the classrooms.

The Government Upper Primary Sanskrit School in Pratappura village has six classrooms, four teachers — but not a single student. The teachers report for work at about 8am, water the plants, read newspaper, chat among themselves and leave after 2pm. They get their salary on time, but are not happy about the state of affairs.

“We feel ashamed to be sitting idle the whole day. It was once a thriving school with more than 50 students, but things changed a few years ago,” Sanwarmal, the school’s head teacher, told HT.

The school, which was established in 1998 attracted children from the neighbouring villages. In 2005, the student strength peaked to 55 and then gradually began to decline. In 2015-16 academic session, only four students were left and their parents also withdrew them last year.

(From left) Sanwarmal, Krishna Verma and Prabhudayal Sharma- teachers of Upper Primary Sanskrit School in Pratappura.

“A few years ago, the neighbouring villages did not have schools so the children used to come to Pratappura. Now, there are three middle schools within 1-2 km range, and so this school has been deserted,” village sarpanch, Balram Verma, said.

Pratappura has a population of about 300, and in most households the head of the family are employed in other towns and only the elders have stayed back to look after the ancestral home.

“The village has only six to seven students from class 1-8 who now study in other schools in the neighbouring villages,” Sanwarmal said.

All the teachers are now sick with boredom. “There is nothing to do here. We even encourage the village elders to come and chat with us so that we are able to pass the time,” Krishna Verma, who is the sole female teacher, said.

A retired army man, Kashiram and a farmer, Ghanshyam Singh, are regular visitors.

The teachers have approached the education department in Jaipur to shift them on deputation to other nearby schools where there is vacancy for Sanskrit teachers. “We gave a written request many months ago, but no action has been taken in this regard. We were told that deputations have been stopped for now,” Sanwarmal said.

The school has a glorious past, said Prabhudayal Sharma, who joined as a teacher in 2003.

“Some of the students have become doctors and engineers and one of them is a senior police official. But now there is little hope. The chances of the school’s revival are very slim,” he said.

As if to emphasise his point, a stray dog wanders inside the premises to be quickly shooed away by one of the teachers.

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