Why Govt. School and College buildings are dilapidated and rundown?
Abracadabra By K. B. Ganapathy, Columns, Top Stories

Why Govt. School and College buildings are dilapidated and rundown?

May 8, 2024

The Department of Collegiate Education, Government of Karnataka, had released huge amount in crores to 460 Government First Grade Colleges in the State during the academic year 2023-24. This amount was released under non-salaries and salaries expenditure. With this funds one would expect the Principals of the respective colleges to utilise the funds for the development and good of the college, both academically and in improving the infrastructure.

It is well-known that Government buildings are generally eyesores, neglected without periodic repairs and maintenance. As a consequence we have many incidents of Government buildings collapsing, specially during monsoon. The recent example was the collapse of a portion of a building in the Maharani’s Science College in city (Oct. 21, 2022).

This happens despite Government’s good intention and concern for maintaining the buildings and providing infrastructure. It is for this reason, the State Government allotted funds for the year 2023-24. But the Principals of these colleges did not use that fund for the purpose it was given, except for a very few. As the colleges did not use the funds, Rs. 18.46 crore has been returned to the Finance Department. Apparently while allocating funds for this purpose for the 2024-25 academic year the amount of allocation would be reduced for obvious reason that the colleges do not need more funds as they have returned the money earlier. Following the non-ultilisation of the fund, the Department of Collegiate Education has, in a routine manner, sought an explanation from the Principals of these respective colleges. It would indeed be interesting to go through their explanation. But the question is: Who will read those 400 explanations? Herein lies the failure not of the Principals but of the big boss who presides over the Department of the Collegiate Education.

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Wonder how this fund is allotted to these 460 Government First Grade Colleges. If it is on the requisition made by each college, then the fault lies with the Principals. It would tantamount to dereliction of duty. If it is an annual blanket allocation where the total amount is apportioned to 460 colleges based on some parameter or equally, then the Principals may have good reason not to utilise the fund. Further the question arises why there is no monitoring of the colleges to check if the funds are properly utilised or why it is not utilised.

Perhaps this is the reason why we find all Government colleges in a dilapidated, rundown condition without even a wash on the walls. The Principals could have used the available funds at least for the maintenance of the building and requisitioned more funds if needed.

It is the perception among the college heads that it is safe to do nothing than doing only to face consequences. Which means inviting RTI activists and allegations of misuse of funds leading to punishment transfer or Court cases.

Therefore, the armchair top bureaucracy of the Department should see beyond his/her chair and desk, send his/her officials to visit the 400 colleges, meet the Principal in his/her own place of work (not call the Principal to the bureaucrat’s office in Bengaluru or wherever) and submit a report to the Big Boss. This old, outdated practice of calling for an explanation will not help achieving the purpose for which the fund is provided.

This style of working (which may be so in all Government Departments) will not help in improving the Government functioning. It only shows that there is no vision nor responsibility on the part of the top bureaucrats of the Department. Working in a routine manner, as per rule book is the way they know and our government officials work. But in a free country either we must change the rule  or go beyond the confines of office. After all, Education Department is responsible for raising the healthy, bright nursery of human resource needed for the healthy growth and fast development of our country.

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Kengal Hanumanthaiah was the Chief Minister of Mysore State (now Karnataka) during 1952-1956. Once he was going to T. Narasipur via Mysore with D. Javaregowda [Dejagow — later College Professor and Vice-Chancellor of Mysore University]. On the way, the Chief Minister asked the driver to reverse the vehicle and take a village road that had a signboard of a Government school.

According to Dejagow, the Chief Minister had remembered a letter sent to him by the School Head Master when he saw the school signboard. The letter had made some demands for the school development. Fortunately, the Head Master was present in the school and was shocked to see the Chief Minister himself in person. He was nervous and shivering. But soon the Chief Minister made him feel comfortable and even complimented him for his concern for the school. We need today that kind of Head Masters and Principals and that kind of Chief Ministers or Education Ministers.

I know of a Minister, then an MLA, who visited a school on Gaddige Road in Mysuru and got the poor Head Mistress transferred. Offence: She did not invite him for the inauguration of two classrooms donated by Rotary. This was nearly three decades ago. But this style of functioning by our present day rulers could be seen even to this day in various forms. Did you get me Steve?

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