The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Church revives summer camp

Ranchi, May 17: Minority and missionary schools in urban areas today agreed to host summer camps in their premises for rural students.

The camps will be held in all district headquarters and the minimum duration will be 10 days. In Ranchi, the summer camps will be held at 20 schools from May 23, said Jharkhand Education Project officials here today.

Human resource development minister Bandhu Tirkey’s dream project, which was threatened to be derailed by opposition from teachers and practically no advance planning, appears to have been rescued by the minority institutions. A grateful state government offered to reimburse the expenses for the board and lodging of students and teachers who would be camping in these schools. The teachers too will be compensated by way of a special allowance, indicated officials, likely to be around Rs 2,000 each.

Confusion, however, continued to mark the concept. While Tirkey claimed that the idea is to merely provide some exposure to rural students, the JEP officer-on-special duty, Anwar Ali, and assistant programme officer S.S. Pradhan, said the camps are meant for weak students and that special classes would be held for them and the idea is to give them the benefit of being taught by teachers in urban schools.

The visiting students, however, will be taken to see urban landmarks. In Ranchi, they will be escorted to the Raj Bhavan and the airport besides other places. In Jamshedpur, they will visit the Jubilee Park and Tata Steel. Activities like painting, drawing and drama competitions will be organised besides other entertainment programme, he added.

Tirkey clarified that all teachers need not attend the camps. Only those who are interested will attend, he said, and will receive a special allowance. Earlier, he had stirred the teachers by “cancelling” the summer vacation of all government schoolteachers.

While the idea of holding summer camps for rural students has been hailed by most academicians, they strongly felt that the department should have done the planning well in advance. JEP officials, however, claimed that they had informed the districts about the camps on January 5 this year.

But the reaction has been acerbic from the teachers. People who matter “think at night and issue orders in the morning”, complained Braj Bihari Pandey, the general secretary of the primary school teachers’ federation. Secondary school teachers’ federation president Ganga Yadav said teachers should be given the privilege of availing 33 days’ earned leave as is given to state government employees, he added.

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