Thirty minor girls from strife-torn Manipur have found refuge in a church-run school in Kerala where they will get to complete their schooling that was disrupted because of the sectarian violence in their home state.
The girls aged 10 to 13 have been admitted to Classes V to VIII at Nicholson Syrian Central School in Thiruvalla, Pathanamthitta district, run by the Malankara Mar Thoma Sabha.
This comes just weeks after Kannur University in the north of the state provided admission to 23 students from Manipur, 10 of them girls, who had arrived in Kerala to continue their higher studies.
The 30 girls have been included as beneficiaries of the Education Care Project launched by the Malankara Mar Thoma Sabha to mark the 50th anniversary of the ordination of its head, Dr Theodosius Mar Thoma Metropolitan.
The students were flown in by the Education Care Project to Kochi in two batches on October 4 and 5 from Dimapur and Aizwal, respectively, via Calcutta. One Manipur guide each accompanied the two batches that travelled to Kochi. The students were then driven to the school, some 110km further south of the state.
“They have all been brought here, admitted to the school and accommodated at the school hostel with the full consent of their parents and the approval of the child welfare committee of Manipur,” Geetha T. George, manager of the school, told The Telegraph on Thursday.
“Our teachers are providing additional tuition and care for these students since they are finding it a little difficult to pick up since they have lost the initial months of the academic year,” she said, referring to the violence in Manipur.
The students do not face any language barrier since they communicate well in English, the first language at the school. “Since we follow the CBSE curriculum, it’s not necessary for them to learn Malayalam,” said George.
She vouched for their safety and welfare since they are now in the school, which is located on the campus of the church. “We are providing whatever they need since their welfare is our responsibility,” she said.
Pathanamthitta district collector Divya S. Iyer, who welcomed the 30 students at an event held at the school on Tuesday, spoke about healing their wounds inflicted by the trauma caused by the unending violence in Manipur.
“Healing comes from the strength to forgive the hurt that you have gone through, which grows from within. And the only thing anybody from outside can provide you is to give you that fertile soil to grow. And this is exactly what this family (the school) is giving you right now. Once you have healed yourself, the next process would be to give that kind of care and healing to others,” the collector told the students.
The Kerala government had earlier instructed educational institutions to admit students from Manipur without any documents like the otherwise mandatory birth certificate and transfer certificate, considering the plight of children in the northeastern state, many of whom have lost them in arson or simply left them behind while fleeing.
Kerala education minister V. Sivankutty had personally welcomed the first Manipuri student to join a government school in Thiruvananthapuram in July.
Following the government’s instructions, Kannur University has relaxed the requirement of original documents for students who arrived from Manipur and provided time till they complete their courses to apply for duplicates from their previous institutions.