Mahudha (Kheda): Behind the primary school in Nandgam village, just 80km from the wide, tree-lined thoroughfares of the state capital Gandhinagar, is a garbage dump. The situation inside the school is not much better: the premises are dirty, there is no clean drinking water and the teachers are negligent in their duties, their behaviour often disgraceful.

On a Sunday in November, children were playing around the school while the adults sat nearby. We spoke to some of them.

“The teachers usually sit together instead of teaching the students. They make the children clean the campus every day,” said Devendrabhai Solanki, who is the secretary of Nandgam’s milk producers’ cooperative society.

A few days before we visited Nandgam, two teachers at the school quarrelled and hurled abuses at each other in front of the students, Solanki told us.

“The primary school is in the middle of the village, so whenever there is a problem among the teachers, they come out of the classrooms and use obscene words even though the students are present,” said Hasmukhbhai Dabhi, a resident of the village, which is located near the Mor river.

Vasant Solanki, who studies in Class 7, said he and his schoolmates have to go outside to find drinking water. “The teachers come late many times... The empty ground behind the classrooms is filled with dust and garbage. There is also a fishmonger next to the school,” he said, pointing to the various problems, including a dirty water tank about the girls’ toilet.

When asked basic general knowledge questions, he was unable to answer.

Nandgam, with a population of around 3,700, has a literacy rate of 75.9 percent, below the state average of 78.03 percent. And the decrepit situation of its school is not unique.

At Aamiyar village in Narmada district, which has around 2,000 residents, former sarpanch Dineshbhai Vasava said the students of the school, which has classes from grade 1 to 8, have to clean their classrooms daily.

“There is a problem of drinking water at the school as there are no proper facilities. The students also have to clean the school,” said Dalpatsinh Rathod, the sarpanch of Sansoli village in Kalol in Panchmahal district.

The primary school at Sarsava village at nearby Ghoghamba is short on space. Two classes are taught in the same room, the students have to clean the premises and, again, there is no drinking water, said Vikrambhai Nayak, the sarpanch.

As the political class fights it out in the ring that is the 2017 Gujarat assembly elections, the education and development of children in villages continue to suffer.

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Hitesh Chavda tweets at @HiteshChavdaNad.