Education in Orissa’s tribal areas is in a shambles
The task force on education, set up by the Orissa government to prepare its Vision-2020 document, notes in its report that for three years, 27 high schools in the state have showed ‘Nil’ results.
All 27 schools are located in tribal-dominated areas. An ongoing nation-wide enrolment drive -- Sarva Siksha Abhiyan -- whose slogan is ‘School-Chale-Hum’ (Let’s Go To School), may be having the desired impact, but there are schools in Orissa where, for several years, not a single student has managed to pass the high school certificate (Class X) examination.
Gopalpur Girls High School in Kalahandi district is one such school. Here, not one student has passed the HSC (Higher Secondary Certificate) examination between 1996 and 2000.
Of the 27 schools, eight schools are in Koraput, eight in Rayagada, two each in Malkangiri and Nawarangapur districts, four in Kalahandi district and one each in Phulbani, Gajapati and Sundargarh.
Officials at the school and mass education department and the SC and ST development department blame each other for the dismal state of education in Orissa’s tribal areas.
A task force member said: “A kind of double administration by the welfare officers of the SC and ST department and the inspectorate of schools has ruined these special schools. No one is bothered about teacher absenteeism, lack of mid-day meals and the absence of facilities.”
Officials at both departments agree that the objective of promoting primary and secondary education in tribal areas has not been achieved.
According to an umbrella body of tribal legislators, Adibasi Bidhayak Parishad, the issue of education for tribal children has not been seriously dealt with. MLAs claim that not a single school has an adequate number of teachers. The government still has to provide books to the tribal students, they say.
In Orissa, 10,000 of the 40,000 schools have no school buildings, and 40% of classrooms do not possess a blackboard. Three thousand schools are single-room schools with just one teacher. Fifty-five per cent of schools do not have drinking water facilities.