With scythes and torches to school in Uttarakhand

Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan_Uttrakhand_UttranchalDehra Dun: Providing quality education to children has been a concern pointed out by various sections, the authorities that are responsible for the same not only made a mockery of the quality that is provided at the hinterlands of Uttarakhand, but there is also an instance where the children have to walk over 30 kms with their backload of bag to reach their school and come back home.

Though there is a primary school in Mundola village of ‘Lacmi Okhrani’ panchayat of Berinag block, there is no junior high school or high school and the children, including small girls have to trudge seven kms (14 kms both ways) to the junior high school at Lachmima. To reach the high school at Pakhu, they have to traverse a distance of 15 kms (30 kms both ways), through arduous and difficult terrain.

And the children do not carry just their books in the bag, but there is also a flash torch and a scythe in their bags. Torch because thee have to leave for their school much before dawn and by the time they return home it gets dark and hence the torch. The scythe is kept as there are fears if encountering dangerous animals on the way including leopard the black sloth bear. They normally go and return in a group for moral courage and support.

The block education officer, Kherinag, C R Arya and coordinator of the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan, Govind Pathni agree that the children are under tremendous constraints to go to school because of the distances involved and they have written to the authorities that be to upgrade the primary school at the village itself to help the children in their education, but so far nothing had been done by them.
They admitted that this is the sad state of affairs despite the fact that under the National Education Programme, it had been clearly spelled out that a high school and intermediate college should be opened at a distance of every three and five kms respectively.

And as far as education in this small hill state goes, it is definitely not in the priority of the various governments that have ruled the state4 since the 12 years that Uttarakhand has achieved statehood. For example in Rudrprayag district there is a school which has two teachers for just one student and another primary school where there are four teachers posted for just e=seven students.

In mark contrast, in the same district there are schools which have a large number of students but hardly any teachers to teach them. The primary school at Twara has two teachers for 152 children while the primary school at Tulanga has 80 children and just one teacher. It is surprising that despite much talk for rationalizing the teacher-taught ratio, nothing is being done in this direction.

A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt is Editor Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish has worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, Jagdish is a recipient of many awards, latest being the 2011 Development Journalism Award. He lives in Dehra Dun.

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