Meenakshi Gorantra Penda, 14, will appear for her class-X board exams from the Government Primary and Secondary Tribal School in Permili village of Gadchiroli, where she is a resident student. She is worried that the school has not begun even the first chapter in science with barely three months to go.
Vijay Namdeo, preparing for his XII board exams, is struggling with mathematics, as is every other student who has chosen that subject. The school has no teacher for mathematics in class-XII.
The ashram shala, or tribal school, in this Naxal-hit district houses some 175 students from classes I to XII. The Maharashtra tribal welfare department has set aside a budget of Rs 1,200 crore for ashram shalas, which are a prominent feature of an integrated tribal policy that the government is working on. Officials said they are providing every possible facility from a central kitchen to uniform and books.
“There will be no shortage of funds when it comes to providing the best facilities to tribal students,” said Minister for Tribal Welfare Vishnu Sawara.
However, a senior secretary conceded, “mismanagement in tribal residential schools is a fact despite huge funds having been set aside for their functioning”. And the reason they are so short of teachers is apparently that qualified teachers are rarely willing to stay in these schools for very long.
School authorities at Permili were not willing to come on record. “We have good basic infrastructure,” said a senior official involved in the management of the school. “But the biggest problem is to get teachers who would come regularly and take lessons. The standard of teachers and continuity in covering all subjects has always been a problem here.”
The Permili school is one of 529 ashram shalas across Maharashtra, aimed at bringing tribal children to mainstream education.
Permili is a little village dotted with bamboo and grass huts. The school stands out as a sprawling concrete cement structure. Students come from the interiors of the Naxal belt — Sironcha, Allapalli, Gadchiroli.
At the centre of the residential school is a playground. Kanchan Pilvatre of class-VI said food is not a problem. Lunch comprises rice, roti and curry; evening tea includes puffed rice cooked with onions and potatoes along with cooked gram, and dinner is again roti, curry and rice. “But what we want is regular lessons,” said one girl.
Subhash Nana Atram of class-XII said, “We have only two teachers, who come and teach Marathi and biology. We have lodged complaints as science students find it difficult to handle physics, chemistry and mathematics. How are we going to perform in the board exams when not a single chapter has been taught in these subjects?”
News and Picture Courtesy- The Indian Express, Jan 4, 2016
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