With shoes worth Rs 266 cr in tatters, UP kids walk ‘barefoot’ to schools

Diwali gift goes down the drain by Holi.
That precisely summarizes the fate of majority of pairs of shoes distributed among school kids of government-run primary and upper primary schools of Uttar Pradesh in November last year.
A reality check at a government-run primary school in Lucknow’s Jiamau area, at least suggests so.
“They are in tatters. The sole has worn out and it is painful to come to school almost barefoot in this hot weather,” said Rahul, a student of Class 2.
The same boy was super delighted when he got his first pair of black school shoes and socks along with several other children in November during Diwali.
“Almost all 50 pairs of shoes that our school students got as special Diwali gift are in tatters. Many kids hold their shoes together with rubber bands, others with laces,” admitted a teacher, not willing to be named for obvious reasons.
Officials, interestingly, are seized of the matter.
“We have ordered all Basic Shiksha Adhikari (BSAs) to replace these worn shoes as there is a provision of a 12-month warranty. Since shoes were purchased in November, it can be replaced,” said Sarvendra Vikram Bahadur Singh, director, basic education department.
To recall, soon after changing the color of school uniform from khaki to pink and brown, the state government had announced to give a new pair of shoes and socks to all 1.54 crore students studying in primary and upper primary schools across the state.
Earlier in October, the state cabinet had approved the free distribution of shoes, socks and sweaters to students of classes 1 to 8.
A sum of Rs 266 crore was earmarked for distribution of shoes/socks to the about 1.54 crore students.
The cost of each pair of shoes was Rs 135.75 while socks came at Rs 21.85 a pair.
Bought on a shoe-string budget, many insist the shoes were of substandard quality.
“My shoes now look more of a sandal as the upper part got partly damaged even before Holi,” said Satish, A class 3 student.
“It is better to come barefoot or in bathroom slippers than to come wearing these substandard shoes,” he added.
Some students also complained that they could not wear the shoes as they were either bigger or smaller than their feet.

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