21 Nov 2019
Chhattisgarh reopens 26 schools in Maoist-hit Bastar after 14 years
Over the past month, the Chhattisgarh government has reopened 26 schools in the Bijapur district after 14 years, a report citing state government officials stated on Thursday.
The institutions were among 300 such schools that were shut after violence escalated in Bijapur, which lies in the Maoist-hit Bastar division.
Reportedly, 700 students have already been enrolled at the schools.
Here are more details.
Tribals, villagers helped local administration reopen schools
According to Hindustan Times, the local administration reopened the schools with the help of tribals and villagers in the extremely-sensitive areas.
Bijapur District Collector KD Kunjam told the publication that local residents have been appointed as 'Shiksha Doots' (teachers).
The teachers will receive an honorarium monthly sum from the District Mineral Fund, intended for the socio-economic development of mining-affected regions.
Discussed importance of education with villagers before reopening schools: Kunjam
"We've taken this initiative to connect extremely-sensitive and far-flung villages with the mainstream through education," Kunjam told HT.
"Before starting classes at these schools, discussions with villagers were held and they were informed about the importance of education. A survey of children was done and local unemployed people were offered teaching jobs," he said, adding the schools provide slates, textbooks, notebooks, and midday meals.
In many remote villages, literacy rate falls below 50%
While Chhattisgarh's urban areas boast a literacy rate of 80.27%- above the national average 74.04%- as per the 2011 Census, remote villages aren't as fortunate.
In villages such as Kerpe, Sendra, Bhairamarh, Madpal, and Hallur, the literacy rate falls below 50%.
This is due to the lack of functioning schools in the region, as many parents cannot afford to send children to towns.
'Happy that my kid can study near our village'
Notably, a local tribal, Munna Apka, recently enrolled his six-year-old at a reopened school, and said, "I am happy that my kid can now study near our village." The child previously studied at a school in Bijapur town.
Further, a shiksha doot at a reopened school in Garona, said, "We have enrolled 55 kids over the last 15 days and more are getting enrolled."
Administration plans to reopen more schools
Kunjam said the reopening of schools will help rebuild the lost trust of villagers in the government.
He said people in other villages have also made demands to reopen schools, which they plan to meet over the next few months.
Chhattisgarh's public relations department director Taran Prakash Sinha added that the state government is working to advance education and nutrition of Bastar's tribal kids.
Schools shut in 2007 when Maoist violence peaked
Many of the schools in Bijapur were shut as violence peaked in 2007.
South Asia Terrorism Portal data shows that 155 people, including 98 security forces personnel, were killed in 51 incidents of violence in the year.
Maoists had also boycotted government operations in Bastar region following clashes with the Salwa Judum, a state-sponsored militia disbanded on the Supreme Court orders in 2011.