Fazilka, January 21
The over a century old Arya Putri Pathshala, a pioneering educational institution that has been at the forefront in promoting female literacy in the area, is now on the brink of closure, thanks to the indifference of the successive governments towards the aided schools.The 137 students studying in the school also face an uncertain future.
A historic school of the town, established in 1904, it offered education to thousands of girls in the days when even primary education was considered to be an achievement and a symbol of literacy.
The school catered to the needs of girl students, particularly from the poor families. It is an institution being run by just a teacher who also acts as its principal. This teacher is scheduled to retire in October this year.
The posts of seven teachers, a helper and a peon were sanctioned in 1967 under the grant-in-aid system. But as the teachers started retiring one by one, the posts fell vacant.
Notably, 95 per cent of the grant is offered by the state government and five per cent by the school management. But now, it has become difficult for both to run the school.
The lone teacher, Urmil Grover, has to run the show alone. "It is proving to be difficult to prepare the school report, documents, accounts and other official work in the absence of any other employee. Even a peon has not been deployed to assist in menial jobs," said Grover.
"The government should have taken over Arya Putri Pathshala as a heritage institution. Such an old historic school should have been granted the status of a university by now. But unfortunately, it is on the verge of closure," said Bhupinder Singh, patron, Graduate Welfare Association, Fazilka.
"The government should come forward to save a pioneer institution like Arya Putri Pathshala in the larger interest of the students. If the government contributes its share, the managing committee can run the school efficiently," said Umesh Chander Kukkar, president, Arya Putri Pathshala Managing Committee.
The condition of the aided schools is worsening in the absence of staff and infrastructure in Fazilka town. There are six primary and two high schools in the town that are aided by the government. Only 25 teachers have been imparting education to nearly 4000 students in these eight schools.
"Only the intervention of the government can help the students studying there. Otherwise, after the retirement of the teachers, the schools will be closed and the future of the students will hang in balance. The government should revive the infrastructure of these schools to fulfill its promise of right to education," said the general secretary of the Punjab Government Aided School Teachers and other Employees Union, Ajay Thakral.
Arya Putri Pathshala, established in 1904, offered education to thousands of girls in the days when even primary education was considered to be an achievement and a symbol of literacy.A century down the line, the school is now on the brink of closure, thanks to the indifference of the successive governments towards the aided schools. The 137 students studying in the school also face an uncertain future.The lone teacher running the institution is scheduled to retire in October this year.