1,600 temporary classrooms in Earthquake hit Sikkim
Gangtok, Oct. 5: The Sikkim government is determined to utilise the eight-day Dasain or Puja break to repair and restore damaged school buildings so that the 779 government institutions with 1.18 lakh students are able to function on Monday. Classes in most institutions have been suspended since September 19, a day after the earthquake as 682 government schools suffered damage of various degrees. Fifty-nine of the school buildings had collapsed. Alternative arrangements like holding classes in the open did not work out because of bad weather. The options now available before the government are: construction of temporary classrooms, hiring buildings near damaged schools and introducing shift system in institutions with low enrolment, located mostly in remote areas. “We have constituted teams of officials and engineers in each district for construction of the temporary classrooms. We have requested the respective MLAs to provide us with help in the form of labourers, most of whom will be unavailable during Dasain,” said state human resource development secretary C.S. Rao. The 20ftX16ft temporary classrooms will accommodate some 30 students each. Locally available material will be used for construction and the arrangement will continue for the next four to five months till permanent structures come up, said Rao. The number of temporary classrooms will depend on the enrolments in each school. “The number of temporary classrooms may cross 1,600 and the MLAs along with our officials are on a tour to assess the exact requirement,” said Rao. Most of these temporary structures are expected to come up on vacant school grounds. The HRD department has the option of hiring space in local buildings if there is no scope to set up a temporary structure near a school. If both these options do not work out, classes may be held in shifts, said Rao. This means the less damaged rooms of a school may be used in turns for holding classes. On September 26, the government officially announced that classes in government and some 325 private education institutions would resume only on October 10 when the Dasain break ends in most schools. The school heads had been directed to work with the authorities for putting up alternative arrangement by then. Chief minister Pawan Chamling had already instructed the HRD department to repair and restore all government schools during Dasain so that students can be back in class on October 10. “There has been a loss of more than a week of class but we will compensate it at the end of the academic calendar. According to an earlier schedule, the schools would have shut on December 17 for winter. Now it will close only on December 22. Right now our target is to start classes from October 10. All arrangements will be ready by October 9 evening,” said Rao. Earlier, schools were supposed to close for Dasain on October 10.