The students of a school for the blind in Varanasi, agitate against the closure by the institution of his high school – Gaonconnection
Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
Pupils at a school for the visually impaired in Varanasi, Sri Hanuman Prasad Poddar Andh Vidyalaya, staged protests from Ganga ghat to the Hindu University of Banaras. The visually impaired students are getting agitated because the boarding school that provided them with free board and lodging has said it will close grades nine to twelve.
“For two years now, the school administration has been trying to close the facility for financial reasons,” said Vikas, a grade 10 student from Sripur in Mirzapur district, who studies in Vidyalaya. Gaon connection.
Last year, on June 17, at an executive meeting of the school administration, a decision was made to stop admissions to grades 9 to 12. The reason given was the financial crisis. Since then, the students of the school have been protesting.
They claimed the school receives government funds to operate, but cite the lack of funds as an excuse to close. The students claim that the school administration wants to use the school for another business venture.
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But, defending the decision to close the school, its director, M Divedi said Gaon connection, âWe only received half of the government grant in 2018-2019. Since then, we have nothing. The institution is going through a serious financial crisis.
The Varanasi school for the visually impaired
Sri Hanuman Prasad Poddar Andh Vidyalaya was established in 1972 in memory of Hanuman Prasad Poddar, freedom fighter, philanthropist and writer. He was also a director of Gita Press, the world’s largest publisher of Hindu religious texts.
The school for the blind was initially only up to the fifth grade. It became a college in 1984 and a high school in 1990. In 1993, it became a college.
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The Hanuman Prasad Poddar Memorial Trust which manages the school is made up of 18 administrators. Its chairman is a well-known businessman from VaranasiBanaras, Krishna Kumar Jalan. All the administrators except one, who is the principal of the school, are business people.
The allegations fly quickly because classes 9 to 12 have been closed.
âThe school regularly receives sufficient and greater funds from the government. But the administrators want to close the school and use the premises for commercial purposes, âsaid Sashi Bhushan Pandey, a 25-year-old former student of the school, from Rajpur Saraiya, in the district of Sant Kabir Nagar. Gaon connection.
âOur lives are dark now. The administration used the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to shut down, âsaid Ganesh Yadav, a 21-year-old student at Tenth Vidyalaya, from Mahita village in Gorakhpur. Gaon connection.
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âI passed my eighth class exams but have no idea where I will be studying my ninth class,â said Ramkumar from Ramauli village in Begusarai district, Bihar. Gaon connection. “While Uttar Pradesh has four public schools for the blind, Bihar and Jharkhand have none,” added Ramkumar, 17.
Ramkumar said the school is playing with their future. âWe want to study and be able to fend for ourselves, and our educational opportunity is being taken away from us,â he complained.
No government financial assistance since 2019
School principal Divedi said he was hurt by allegations of financial improprieties the students were making on the administration. âWe have given these students so much love and they are fighting against the school now. Their allegations are baseless and false, âhe said.
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âWe served the children as long as we could. Ours is a private trust and we make the decisions, âsaid Shyam Sundar Prasad, Chief Secretary of Hanuman Prasad Poddar Memorial Trust, Gaon connection. He also dismissed the students’ allegations of embezzlement and converting the school into a business enterprise, as unfounded.
âWe will be agitating until our demands are met,â said Shashi Bhushan, one of the protest leaders. Gaon connection. He said their protest was peaceful and Gandhian.
âAll we want is to be allowed to continue our education. This is the only way to ensure our future. But if our future is compromised and with it the future of our future generations, we will continue to fight, âsaid Bhushan.
Read the story in Hindi.