Children at an anganwadi centre in Nekragunji village, Gopalpur panchayat
If Jamshedpur is proud of its elite schools, two panchayats of a block in East Singhbhum district also nurture the ambition of having one of their own.
Around 39 villages of two panchayats in Baharagora block, on the outskirts of the steel city, have teamed up with a steely resolution. They want an English-medium school for their children, and that too one that is affiliated to CBSE or ICSE board. And, they are busy completing land formalities and raising funds to start the school next year.
The two panchayats of East Singhbhum, Gopalpur and Kherua, with 19 and 20 villages respectively, are vocal about their aspirations.
“True, we have primary schools, where midday meals are a big help. But middle and high schools are too less, too far away and in many cases are run by a single teacher. How can all subjects be taught by one teacher without quality taking a dip?” asked Laxmiram Murmu, the mukhiya of Gopalpur.
On why he and other villagers wanted an English-medium school in the area, he said: “Long-term benefits.”
“We want out children to be no less smart, competent and well-educated than the ones in cities. So, we want an English-medium school under a Delhi board,” he said.
“Also, due to far-off schools, children have to walk or cycle several kilometres a day. Mothers of girls often don’t feel safe. Many girls are forced to drop out. If we set up a good school in our area, girls will also get a chance to study without external worries,” the mukhiya said.
Murmu added that they were going about the task in a systematic manner. “We have zeroed in on a 10-bigha or 1,44,000sqft plot. A villager wanted to donate it to us, but we preferred the legal way of buying it to construct the school building. We thought of starting classes at the panchayat bhavan but realised a school can’t do without resources,” he said.
Right now, their plan is voluntary collection of money from all the 39 villages in the twin panchayats.
“Quality education is the priority of our area now,” Murmu said. “We know our children have the brains. But, they must also be trained in a manner that makes them fit for the competitive world. Our dream is having a school that is like any other institute in the city.”