School named after Olympian awaits astroturf for 5 years : The Tribune India

School named after Olympian awaits astroturf for 5 years

School named after Olympian awaits astroturf for 5 years

The sprawling grounds of Government Senior Secondary School at Attari on Wednesday. Photo: Vishal Kumar

Tribune News Service

Neha Saini

Amritsar, May 31

The Government Senior Secondary School, Attari, which was renamed after Shamsher Singh, Indian hockey mid-fielder and Olympian, has been waiting for a hockey astro-turf for the last five years. The fact that Shamsher is the first Olympian from Attari and had spent most of his early years playing hockey at the uneven, muddy playground inside the school, fell short of waking up the authorities from their slumber. The school offers three field of sports to the students — volleyball, football and hockey. Currently, it has 75 under-training players, all students of the school, playing in the Under-14 and Under-16 categories in national and state teams.

“We have repeatedly written to the authorities to request them to build an astro-turf as we have good talent in the sport from Attari. Apart from the turf, we also require sports kits including hockey sticks and fully equipped gymnasium for the athletes. Till date, we only receive an annual sports grant of Rs 25,000 for all our needs,” said Navjit Singh, sports head and coach at the school. On an average, he said that the sports kit for hockey costs around Rs 8,500 and the football and volleyball kits costs Rs 7,000. “We are not left with much for the development of any other sports,” he said.

The school has two grounds, one for hockey and one for volleyball. It also has an indoor gymnasium, with bare minimum equipment. The school is among the three in the district with a mud-based hockey training ground. Players from Attari and other border villages, who get training here have to later go and join other sports academies offering residential sports programmes or government schools in urban centres to get proper benefits. The Department of Sports, Punjab, had set up a sports wing in selected government schools in each district, where players were provided training, sports kits, equipment and diet. “While players at the residential sports centres at Cheherhta get regular diet as well, our students have to depend on their own for their nutritional requirements, which is difficult for them as they come from low-income families. We try to sustain a healthy diet for them by contributing from our own pockets and engaging some NRIs who are associated with the school,” said Navjit. Shamsher also contributes towards the school’s sports development every now and then.

Shortage of teachers another challenge

The school also faces a shortage of master cadre teachers for several subjects including Punjabi, English and History. It has 150 students of History with just one regular teacher. The principal of the school has been transferred to Kot Khalsa, so there will also be a post for the principal vacant from next month onward. “Several posts for the subjects of Science, English, Punjabi and History are lying vacant. We have been engaging teachers from other subjects or general subjects to take classes in case of need,” said a senior teacher who is due for retirement in December.

Despite new appointments and the Education Department’s efforts to ration teachers by sending them back to their parents’ schools, the shortage of teachers in schools in the border belt remains.

This shortage, in some schools, also violates the RTE Act, which stipulates that the pupil-teacher ratio should be 30:1 (primary) and 35:1 (upper primary). The school has 700-740 students and the biggest challenge is that teachers do not willingly apply for border posting. “The reason is because the government has stopped the rural and border area allowance, which deducts around Rs 5,000-Rs 6,000 directly from the average salary of a teacher serving in border schools. Many teachers have to travel long distances, which increases their expenses,” shared Hardeep Singh, Hindi master at the school.

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