RSS wing steps in to fill govt school gap

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By RAJ KUMAR in Ranchi
  • Published 29.11.02
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Ranchi, Nov. 29: At a time when the RSS has come under criticism for fanning communal discord, one of its wings has notched up achievements in the field of providing basic education in Jharkhand.

Vidya Bharti, an educational body, which runs the Saraswati Shishu Mandir and Saraswati Vidya Mandir chain of schools, throughout the country, has opened about 150 “Ekal Vidyalayas” (one-teacher schools) in different parts of Jharkhand.

Vidya Bharati’s two wings — Shishu Shiksha Vikas Samiti and Vidya Vikas Samiti — have managed this feat in a span of only four months. The curriculum is “basic” and not rooted in a Hindutva theme.

The schools are run as planned on the lines of the state government’s ‘Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan’. Each school has the provision for one teacher. Teachers are appointed on a small honorarium, usually from the same village where the school exists.

Vidya Vikas Samiti’s chief of communications Akhilesh Kumar Mishra said the schools were run under the “guidance of local people”. “These schools are (run) by and for the people. We have appointed, male and female teachers. They have been provided with study material and are doing their work with people’s support. The response has been good,” he added.“We waited for government support as it claimed that its Sarva Shikhsa Abhiyan would be a campaign to provide education to all. But as the government adopted a disinterested attitude, we began on our own. The Ekal Vidyalaya mission is being carried forward without government support,” said Mishra. The government campaign was “impossible” to implement because of the education department official’s negative attitude, he added.

Vidya Bharati regional secretary Ramakant Rai said all single-teacher schools are monitored by a group of four youths who are closely associated with the rural population. “It is their duty to monitor the teacher’s performance in imparting education to the children,” he added. Rai said their purpose was only to create an interest in education among rural children. “Our syllabus is limited to basic knowledge of alphabets, words and numbers, besides games and songs. We have also emphasised on cleanliness among students,” he added.

“School timings have been fixed according to the convenience of the children and the parents. Some schools are run in morning while some work in the afternoon. The duration is three hours a day,” Rai said.

Mahadev Munda said people had responded positively to Vidya Bharati’s effort. “The villagers have provided space for the schools. While some have provided verandahs, others have even provided rooms for classrooms,” he added.

“We have received a positive response in Khunti, Arki, Khijri, Poreyahaat, Sunder Pahari and Godda. About 4,500 students are getting education in a homely atmosphere due to our effort. The parents are also happy,” Munda said.

Asked about presence of extremists in the villages, Babodhan said: “They Naxalites are co-operative. When we started our work, they were suspicious and took it as an effort to saffronise the masses. But their attitude changed with time, though they advised us not to indulge in politics.”

Sambrai Pahan, a teacher in Tilma village of Khunti, said children come to school because it was fun. “Children, who had never been to school come to us. They love the games and the songs. Few have shown interest in studies but we keep trying to convince them,” said another teacher. Gandura Munda, who works in Dorey, a village of Arki block, said the villagers have begun to respect them. One day an elderly person came and touched my feet, saying that God had sent me to educate his children,” said Munda.