Despite their bags and books being buried under quake debris, students in the border town of Uri, devastated by the October 8 killer earthquake, have started trickling into makeshift classrooms that hold out a ray of hope for the future.
Though educational institutions, which were severely hit by the quake, have started functioning again, it will be a long time before normalcy is achieved in this vital sector, nodal officer of the Education Department, Abdul Ahad, told PTI.
Almost all the schools, including 217 primary, 43 middle, 12 high and three higher secondary schools were completely destroyed by the 7.4 magnititude quake, Ahad said.
Police has taken up construction of temporary tin and timber structures in five schools so that the students can resume classwork at the earliest, he said.
Although the beginning has not been very good, the signs are encouraging, he said, adding that normal functioning of the schools, especially higher secondary and high schools, will take some time as many students have lost their relatives and many others have moved to Srinagar to prepare for the upcoming board exams.
Out of 310 students enrolled at Government Girls' High School at Uri, only 30 have turned up. However, normal classwork has not started, as the allied infrastructure for holding classes is not ready yet, Rafiq Ahmed, a teacher in the school said.
Ahmed said more students would have turned up if the authorities had used electronic media, especially Radio Kashmir, to intimate the students about the resumption of classes.
The girls' school is housed in a timber-she,d with 40 catchment villages spread over 50 kms from Jingal to Kamanpost, the last Indian territory on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road.
The most unfortunate aspect of the situation in the makeshift schools was that the students were without books and bags. These got buried under the debris of schools and homes when the killer quake hit at around 9.20 am on October 8.
However, Ahad said textbooks are being arranged for students from the Board of School Education, which has promised to provide them by mid-November.
Meanwhile, UNICEF has promised to provide tents for schools where 20,000 students of Uri tehsil study, so that they are not deprived of education.
UNICEF will also provide one tent for each school, although the education officer said that a high school requires five, middle schools two and primary schools one tent to accommodate the students.