Students of a government primary school at Paida village under Erasama block here have been forced to study on the veranda of the local panchayat office for 20 years due to wanting of a building and land.

The school was established in 1936, before Independence. The government subsequently took up the school. But it is yet to construct a building or provide land.

Paida Upper Primary school, which was established in 1936, was functioning from private land of Natabar Sahoo.

It was functioning in a dilapidated asbestos room on some private land. During the 1999 super cyclone, the room got damaged.

Later, the government had sanctioned funds under the Operation Black Board scheme for the construction of school building but landowner Sahoo protested the construction of building on his land.

The revenue department handed over the pasture land of the village for the construction of a school building but the villagers objected to this as there was a shortage of grazing land for the cattle.

With all these obstacles, the students continue to study on the veranda of Paida panchayat office.

Headmaster Gangadhar Panigrahi said, “There are only 75 students from class I to class VII. The enrolment has dropped due to lack of building and facilities. Classes are taken on the veranda of the panchayat building for 20 years. There is no toilet for girls, no kitchen for MDM etc. The government decided to open Class VIII but we failed to do so as there is no space.”

Villagers of Paida Kailash Pradhan, Gaurang Charan Parida and others said, “Look at the irony – a government which acquires 2700 acres of land for the shelved Posco steel project in this block has not been able to provide a plot of land for the school since 20 years. The priority of the Naveen Patnaik government, its tall claims on education and insensitivity stands exposed.”

Parents are not interested in sending their children to the school and hence the enrolment has dropped, they said.

Sarpanch of Paida panchayat Pradipta Kishore Parida said, “There are three rooms of our panchayat in which one room is being given for this school as a result of which three classes are being held in one room while other students are sitting on the veranda of this panchayat office.

“Similarly, the official work of our panchayat office has been hampered due to the shortage of room. We have sought the intervention of the government to provide land in favour of this school.”

On the other hand, Dhabelswer Nodal High School of Hansura panchayat having 129 students has its own land and school building but it has only 3 teachers. Shortage of teachers has hit the education system.

Shortage of teachers, lack of infrastructure, misappropriation of rice under Mid Day Meal, non-availability of teaching-learning materials due to fund crunch are the main causes of the rise of dropout rate in this district.

Due to this, students who were studying in government-run primary schools have been forced to study in private schools due to lack of facilities and deterioration of education level.

Block Education Officer, Erasama Jayant Kumar Ray, said education has been adversely affected at Paida School and steps have been taken for alternative arrangements for this school.