Evidently, it took five deaths for the authorities concerned to wake up and to take action against errant officials.
Kumram Bheem Asifabad: Authorities of both the education, tribal and social welfare department drew flak for failing to prevent deaths of students studying in government-run educational institutions. Evidently, it took five deaths for the authorities concerned to wake up and to take action against errant officials.
A special officer, an auxiliary midwifery nurse and a duty teacher belonging to Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV)-Kaghaznagar were on Thursday terminated from services for ‘certain lapses’ leading to death of a student, following an unprecedented uproar of the student unions and parents. On August 8, Nagoshe Aishwarya (13), a VIII grader, fell unconscious after suffering from fever for two days at her hostel of the KGBV.
Aishwarya was shifted to a hospital in Kaghaznagar. But doctors declared that she was brought dead. Her classmates told pressmen that she was advised to apply a balm meant for curing headache instead of tablets, but was not admitted to a hospital. The incident raised eyebrows of many over poor medical services in the educational institutions.
Five students die in 10 days
Incidentally, five students including three girls studying in different classes at various educational institutions run by the State lost lives in a span of 10 days. The district registered the unfortunate deaths of Aishwarya (13), Ramesh (10), Sangeetha (19), Rajesh (15) and Ashwini (10) from August 28 to September 8, reflecting poor administration and lack of monitoring of these institutions by authorities concerned.
“Had the authorities responded to the death of Ashwini who died of fever while receiving treatment at a hospital in Kaghaznagar in the last week of August, the precious lives of four students would have been survived. An inquiry should be made into these deaths and action be initiated against officials responsible,”” K Anand, a student union leader, demanded.
Challenges galore plague hostels, schools
The hostels and schools, run by the tribal and social welfare, BC and KGBV, are plagued by a slew of challenges including tacky sanitation and drinking water facilities. Internal-fighting between teachers and heads of administration is leaving an adverse impact on the governance.
Lack of supervision by higher officials
Authorities of the education department and the tribal welfare department are drawing flak for showing laxity in inspecting the hostels and schools at regular intervals. “They focus on these educational institutions only when media glare is on the schools following the death of a student or food poisoning instances. They are not carrying surprise visits to these hostels and schools either monthly or quarterly once,” Shankarlingam, a retired headmaster opined.
Similarly, funds have not been granted to improve infrastructure of the hostels and schools and mess charges have not been increased for quite a long time. One of the main causes of fever is malnutrition. “Students are unable to stay healthy due to the diet provided in these tribal welfare department-run hostels. The mess charges have not been enhanced since five years,” a headmaster said on the condition of anonymity.
Corruption gone up
It is learnt that headmasters of Ashram schools and KGBVs are expected to offer monthly bribes to higher authorities to avoid inspections and to student unions to avert dharnas and protest. They are forced to provide food, tea and snacks to teachers working in the schools. They are struggling to administer the hostels facing all these challenges. As a result, the health of students is gone to the wind.
Authorities swing into action
Considering widespread criticism from different sections of the society in the wake of serial deaths of students, special steps are being taken to prevent similar incidents in future. Medical camps are being conducted at the hostels and schools. Students who are diagnosed with a disease are now being admitted to a hospital. Health cards are going to be given to wards of the hostels.
As many as 44,651 students out of the total 87,000 pupils belonging to SC, ST, BC and KGBG were screened by 10 teams of Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK) in the district from June to August. Similarly, all the hostels are being inspected and wardens are instructed to keep kitchens, toilets, dining halls tidy.
Here are the students who died
August 7: Nagose Aishwarya (13) of Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya in Kaghaznagar.
August 9: Athram Kavita (15) of KGBV at Utnoor
August 18: Rathod Baghya Sri (11), a class V student of an Ashram school at Kuntala village
August 24: Alam Rajesh (15), an inmate of a hostel run by the tribal welfare department at Yellur village
August 28: Gomasa Ashwini (10), a Grade V student of Social welfare residential school in Sirpur (T)
August 30 Maheshwari (9) of Ashram school in Utnoor.
September 1: Lavudya Sangeetha (19) of Tribal Welfare Degree College in Asifabad
September 2: Tekam Ramesh (10) of tribal welfare department’s school in Tiryani