Monday, 30th October 2017

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Where girls live in boys' hostel

Arunachal school lacks infrastructure since inception

By Ranju Dodum
  • Published 31.10.15
The incomplete girls' hostel of Eklavya Model Residential School at Bana in East Kameng district. Telegraph picture

Itanagar, Oct. 30: Why on earth would girls live in a boys' hostel? The answer lies in an incomplete, rectangular hall with no roof, windows and doors stands on the northeastern section of Eklavya Model Residential School campus.

Inside, foliage grows wild and a table lies toppled. This is a girls' hostel that has been under construction since 2012.

The school at Bana in Arunachal Pradesh's East Kameng district was set up by the Union ministry of tribal affairs as a part of 100 such schools across the country to provide free education to poor tribal children from Classes VI to X. It began its first academic session in 2009.

However, with just four classrooms and seven teachers, the school isn't exactly living up to its intended goal. Last year, the media had highlighted the plight of the school, which has seats reserved for students from all districts.

Principal R.P. Dubey said not much has changed since then.

Last month, Union minister for tribal affairs Jual Oram told chief minister Nabam Tuki to examine the prospects of expanding the presence of such schools in the state. While another school has been set up at Lumla in Tawang district, the very first school is languishing because of poor infrastructure.

Dubey, who took charge as principal in June last year, said that despite having "written to every department" there has been "no improvement" in the infrastructure.

One of the biggest challenges has been the delay in construction of two new hostels for the students.

"Only the ground floor of the boys' new hostel has been completed so far," Dubey said. He said the public works department officials say that the Centre has not released funds for the work. Completion of work on the girls' hostel has been delayed by three years.

Even with student strength of just 60 (30 boys and 30 girls), the present hostels, Dubey said, are "overburdened". Once the new hostels are built, the school will be able to accommodate more students. Because of this space crunch, "poor families are losing out," Dubey added.

For the moment, both boys and girls stay in the old boys' hostel in separate sections.

Sources said funds have been misused ever since the school opened six years ago. More than Rs 2 crore was reportedly sanctioned for the construction of multi-storied hostels.

East Kameng deputy director of school education Kata Rangmo said, "The school has been drowning in problems since its inception and is losing out on 60 new students every year owing to the delays".

Bana sub-division PWD assistant engineer Kapil Natung said the tribal affairs ministry has not released around Rs 35 lakh meant for completion of the ground floor of the girls' hostel despite repeated reminders.

Natung, who took charge in May, said funds for the upper floors have not been sanctioned yet. There are other issues plaguing the school as well. It has just four classrooms and three science laboratories with very little equipment.

Last year, the school began admitting new students as late as in September when the staff were finally paid their salaries after Tuki intervened. This, in turn, affected the student intake since most schools were already midway through their academic session.

Dubey said the first batch of 60 students which appeared for the Class X examinations last year had to do so at the Government Higher Secondary School in Bana. The principal is concerned that if this trend continues, the school's affiliation to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) would be in jeopardy.

"Affiliation can be sought only if exams are conducted for three consecutive years in the school," he said. However, Dubey, who hails from Uttar Pradesh and has been in the state for over two decades, remains optimistic. "Our children did very well in last year's exams," he added.