PATNA: They battle severe heat and cold as they try to focus on studies. And
life seems bleak as the children of villages around the Kosi river belt
in this north Bihar district sit on the damp floors of their ramshackle
schools that resemble rickety shacks.
"I need a school to study.
Please arrange a school for me. After completing my studies I shall
build a home for my family," 12-year-old Sanjana Mondal urged this
visiting correspondent even as she tried to cover her face to avoid the
sand that blew from the river bank.
Sanjana and thousands like
her were displaced because of construction of the Grand Kosi Mahasetu.
About 70,000 people in 62 villages began to migrate in 2010 after they
lost land and home, says local activist Narayan Jee Choudhary. Only a
few uprooted residents got compensation. Since then there has been no
respite as nature battered them, year after year.
'school', Utkarmait Madhya Vidyalaya, is located just below the Kosi
embankment in Itahari village, about three kilometres from the National
Highway 57 (East-West Corridor). Like her, there are about 352 students
who attend classes I to VIII. But the school, if it can be called one,
doesn't have a roof, no toilet and no fence.
Despite these odds,
the children and their teachers dream of a better day when someone from
the administration would notice their plight. But the promises made from
the corridors of power in Patna sound hollow to them.
people have asked us about the problems we face. But so far, even after
so many years, nothing has changed," rued Sanjana.
principal, Dashrath Prasad Yadav, pleaded helplessness. "We don't have a
proper school building and no boundary wall. My students are not safe
here. We don't have any other option but to continue like this," Yadav
A pall of gloom has enveloped this region. "I owned over 60
acres of land. But all of it is now submerged in water. Which means I
cannot sell any land to send my daughter to a private school for higher
studies," said Sanjana's father Yogendra Mondal.
And he's not the only one.
are 327 families in Itahari village, mostly belonging to the Scheduled
Castes, OBCs and minority community. Their stories are similar to the
hazards faced by thousands of families in this belt.
The cloud of
uncertainly hangs on villages like Rai Evam Sardar Tola, Kataiya Tola,
Baltharba, Bhulia and Dholi in the Nirmali and Saraigarh Bhaptiahi
blocks of the district.
Schools here are not fit to serve the
purpose. Education is a tattered reality, even though the Nitish Kumar
government claims to have built new schools in the state.
Class 8 student in the Jhakarahi Dholi Middle School, portrayed a
similar picture. "We don't have a proper school building... it's just a
broken hut. We sit on the floor. We get drenched when it rains," she
said, adding "there's no protection from the heat and the cold when the
The Bihar government claims to have built over
100,000 additional classrooms since 2005 to revive the schools. The
government also established 21,087 primary schools and upgraded about
19,581 primary schools to middle schools in the state between 2005 to
2015, according to published figures.
But these claims fall flat in Supaul district. So what is the district administration doing?
Magistrate Baidyanath Yadav shrugged off the issue. "We don't have
special funds with us for them," Yadav told IANS, suggesting that the
images of the rickety schools be shared with the administration.
Divisional Commissioner T.N. Bindhyeshwari said she wasn't aware of the
condition of these schools. "I am not aware of the plight of these
students. I will ask my officers to check the condition of the schools
in these villages," Bindhyeshwari said.
Despite repeated attempts to contact him, Bihar's Education Minister Ashok Chaudhary did not respond.
(Anand Singh can be contacted at email@example.com)