SRINAGAR: In the remote village of Lohai, located in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district, Seerat Naaz and her younger sister Falak, who are students in class 3 and 2 respectively at a Government High School, undertake a challenging daily journey. They trek through hilly terrain, covering up to 4 kilometers each way, navigating numerous streams on their way to school.
Frustrated by the obstacles they face, Seerat, the young girl, as per a report by The Indian Express has made a heartfelt plea to the public. She is urging people to donate just 1 rupee each, with the hope that she and other children in this remote part of the Union Territory can attend a “good government school.”
In a video shared on social media, Seerat can be heard saying, “The condition of my school building remains unchanged. I have no expectations from anyone, but now, with your help, I will work towards completing the construction.”
Seerat’s mother, Saima Naaz, as per Indian Express revealed that Seerat initiated the fund by contributing 2,000 rupees herself. She had received this money as a reward for her motivational speech, dance performance, and painting of a freedom fighter during the Independence Day celebrations at her school in August. Over the past week, Seerat has managed to raise 7,500 rupees, with the largest contribution of 1,000 rupees coming from an anonymous donor in Hyderabad.
Seerat uploaded a brief video on September 7, in which she discussed her previous video about her school, which, unfortunately, “did not have much impact.” She expressed her determination to continue her efforts to bring attention to their plight.
This earlier video, shot on her cellphone in April, highlighted the poor infrastructure of her school. In it, she had appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to build a “good school so that students can receive proper education.”
With nearly 350 students enrolled, the school consists of two buildings. There is an old building with three rooms and a veranda, as well as an unfinished two-story building with nearly a dozen rooms in a deteriorating condition.
Officials have indicated that the construction of the latter building was initiated by the J&K Public Works Department following a commitment made by the former Chief Minister of the state, Omar Abdullah, during a visit to the area in 2014. However, in 2016, the contractor abandoned the project and locked it, alleging that his payments were not released by the PWD.
The building with classrooms remains incomplete, with floors and walls left unfinished.
Recalling her daily struggle to reach school, Seerat emphasised the dangers posed by swollen streams on the way, particularly after heavy rains. In July, two schoolgirls lost their lives as they were swept away while attempting to cross one such stream.
Seerat passionately stated, “I want to have a good school in the village so that I can study and contribute to the betterment of the village and its people.”
Deep Raj, the project director of Samagra Shiksha at the J&K Department of School Education, explained that the work initiated by the PWD nearly a decade ago remains incomplete despite an expenditure of 98 lakh rupees. The delay has resulted in a cost overrun, estimated at 65 lakh rupees. This issue has been included in the plan, and action will be taken soon, he assured.
(Note: This article is credited to The Indian Express for its coverage and reporting)