| Classes in session at the classroom-on-the-road. Picture by Bijoy Kr Sharma |
Bilasipara, Oct. 10: Dipak Das, a science teacher at the Bilasipara Town Girls’ High School, was teaching his Class X students about the atom — its functions and importance.
“It is the smallest unit of matter, which contains all the characteristics of a matter. But if broken further, it loses its characteristics,” he said before being interrupted by Sagari Barman, who had a question.
Das heard her out and started answering, only to be cut short again — this time by the bell signalling the period was over.
It was a scene out of any school classroom except that it was being conducted under the open sky or, more precisely, bang in the middle of JP Road near Bata in this town of Dhubri district.
The classroom-on-the-road was the students’ way of protesting against closure of schools in the district to shelter riot-hit victims of BTAD since July this year.
Nearly 1,000 students from five schools — Rokakhata High School, Indra Narayan Academy Higher Secndary School, Bilasipara Public High School, Bilasipara Town Girls’ High School and Pub Bilasipara Girls High School — came out and urged teachers to hold classes on the JP Road in the heart of the town, throwing traffic out of gear for over two hours.
Barring desks and benches, almost all other paraphernalia associated with a classroom were in place — blackboards, dusters and chalk. Above all, the students were in uniform as they attended class under the gaze of a large number of onlookers.
Preeti Goswami, a student of Class X in Bilasipara Town Girls High School, expressed deep resentment over the closure of schools for the last three months. “Tell me, what shall we do? We have no way out but to have classes on the road to draw the attention of the authorities to our plight.”
“Schools have remained occupied by the riot-displaced people and our classes are not being held at a time when the final HS examination is knocking on the door... No one seems to care about our education,” Khalida Zia, a student of XII in Bilasipara Public Higher Secondary School, said.
Bikram Ghose and Pranab Basak, both students of Class IX in Indra Narayan Academy Higher Secondary School, said their final exams were scheduled for December. “What do we write?” Basak wondered.
The students also denounced the government’s policy to hold classes in temporary sheds constructed on the premises of the schools, and, instead, demanded shifting of the camp inmates to the temporary sheds and immediate opening of the classrooms.
Rokakhata High School management and development committee president Debobrata Das said the way the government was trying to hold classes was nothing but a farce. “No one seems to be serious or concerned about the loss of precious academic time. What will be the future of the thousands of students who have been trapped in this wrong policy of the government to shelter riot-displaced people in schools?”
Regretting the plight of the students, Indra Narayan Academy Higher Secondary School management and development committee president Dipak Chakraborty said the government was playing with the future of the students.
Rokakhata High School principal Hiranya Nath, who also took classes on the road today, said, “How shall we conduct science laboratory classes and computer classes in temporary sheds? We were twice adjudged the best school for results and received grants of Rs 5 lakh from the state government each time but it may not be possible this time.”
There have been no regular classes in over 170 schools in the district for the past three months.