Miles to go in Mahuadanr

Print edition : October 08, 2021

Ramni Kumari, from Kathaltoli in Mahuadanr, Jharkhand, is enrolled in Class 6. She can barely read a few words in Hindi, but she has a Sanskrit textbook, aside from English. Photo: Pallavi Kumari

IF the general state of the schooling system today is bad enough, things are much worse in deprived areas like Mahuadanr block in Latehar district (Jharkhand). Take Mile village, where 68 children attend the local government school. When we went there, the headteacher was sitting in the verandah, deeply absorbed in updating the voters’ list in anticipation of the forthcoming gram panchayat elections. He did not expect to have much time for children in the next few months. By that time, it will be close to the end of the school year, when children will be catapulted three grades ahead of the class they were in before the lockdown.

According to the Block Education Officer (BEO), this situation will be dealt with by hiring “volunteers” for a few months and asking them to bring the children up to speed while school teachers press on with the curriculum. Some of the children we met around there had forgotten how to read a simple sentence in Hindi but they were in proud possession of English and even Sanskrit textbooks. Good luck to the volunteers.

PolikaThithiyo, chair of the local school committee, was crestfallen. He said that the school had brought much hope to the village, and was teeming with life before the lockdown. Now everything has gone downhill – “down ke down” as he put it.

Aside from election duties, the state of the school building is likely to hamper studies for some time: there is seepage all over and the premises are unsafe according to the headteacher, who has requested the construction of a new building. When we asked the BEO how long it might take to repair school buildings, he bluntly replied, “koi guarantee naheen” (God knows). He said that no funds were available for this at the block or even district levels - proposals for repair will have to wind their way up to the state capital and back.

We visited four villages in Mahuadanr block and the situation was much the same everywhere. For the time being, primary schools are more or less off the table in this area.


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