Saturday, 19 May 2012

Where is the money and the school as promised by the government?

By Tejang Chakma

Published in Merinews on 19 May 2012

      "The Centre's Multi-Sectoral Development Programme is being implemented in          Arunachal Pradesh. In Changlang district, the school buildings for the Govt Secondary School, Diyun was selected under the MsDP in 2010. But the construction is yet to start."

IN 2008, the Government of India introduced Multi-Sectoral Development Programme (MsDP) to address the development deficits in the minority concentrated districts across the country.

The state government of Arunachal Pradesh has been implementing the Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Multi-Sectoral Development Programme(MsDP) of the Ministry of Minority Affairs. Many projects are undertaken for the welfare and development of the minority communities in the state. The scheme is being implemented in Changlang district, which is a category 'A' district having both socio-economic and basic amenities parameters below the national average. The fund allocated for the district under MsDP Plan was Rs. 1870 lakh for the 11th Five Year Plan.

The Empowered Committee of the Ministry of Minorities Affairs during its 37th Meeting held on August 23, 2010, approved, among others, the proposal of the state government to construct the buildings of the Government Secondary School, Diyun under Changlang district. The state government informed the Empowered Committee that the school was selected as it falls in minority concentration areas. As per the agreement the construction would be concrete brick buildings from classes 1 to X to replace bamboo structure with Semi Permanent Type (SPT) building.

View of a dilapidated classroom of Diyun Govt. Sec. School 
The Diyun Secondary School, constructed initially by the Chakmas themselves on a self-help basis, is the only secondary level school meant for a population of about 46,000 Chakma Buddhist minorities in Changlang district. Since then the condition of the school remained dismal. The school remained overcrowded and infrastructure appalling. Due to poor study environment the quality of education has taken a back seat.

The Ministry of Minority Affairs (MoMA) has already released the fund meant for the construction of the school. The total cost of the project was 50 lakhs in the ratio of 90:10 between Centre and State. The first installment of Rs. 22.50 lakhs of the central share was released by the end of 2010. However, the government is yet to start infrastructure-construction work of the school till date.

The projects under the MsDP are required to be completed during 11th Five Year Plan period. The state government will have to return the fund if it remained unused. Surprisingly, the Deputy Commissioner informed the Empowered Committee during its 51st meeting held November 25, 2011 that the utilization certificate for the project will be submitted by January, 2012.

It is beyond one’s imagination as to how the Deputy Commissioner assured to submit the utilization certificate without any construction work started on the ground.

Timely construction of the school buildings could have solved half of the problem in the school. The question is bound to arise - where has the money gone, and have these Buddhist minorities been denied the benefit of the minority scheme because they belong to the Chakma community?

Monday, 14 May 2012

Open Letter to Hon’ble CM, Arunachal Pradesh


The Hon’ble Chief Minister
Arunachal Pradesh

Subject: Request for intervention to end drop-out of Chakma students after elementary schools


I am writing to draw your kind attention towards the deplorable state of secondary education in Chakma-inhabited areas under Miao Sub-Division in Changlang district. Many Chakma students had to involuntarily drop out due to lack of secondary schools over the last few years.

At least 88 Chakma students, including 29 girls, from 17 villages under Miao and Kharsang Circles had to drop out last year. Out of the 88 students, 10 had completed Class 8th in 2010-11 academic session. These students lost a valuable year, while the 10 students suffered two academic lost in a row.

All these students completed their elementary schooling from four Govt. middle schools located in their villages. Two schools namely Govt. higher secondary schools at Miao and Kharshang which are feeder to these middle schools. However, the school authorities did not allow admission to these Chakma students due to overcrowding, lack of teachers and infrastructure etc. The students also approached the secondary schools under Diyun circle, where they were again refused admission on the grounds of overcrowding, outside jurisdiction etc.

Acting on various representations from the 17 affected villages, the Director of Secondary Education in a letter (Memo No.EDA.107/99-2000) dated 21 October 2011 requested the Deputy Commissioner, Changlang and Deputy Director of School Education, Changlang to direct/instruct the Principals of Govt HSS Kharsang, Miao, Innao and Headmaster of Diyun to admit the students and forward the name of admitted students to the CBSE for registration to avoid loss of one valuable academic year of the students. On 3 November 2011, the Deputy Director of School Education, Changlang instructed all the school authorities of Miao/Kharsang/Diyun circles to admit the Chakma students on proportionate sharing basis. But, none of the schools complied with the instruction and the students had to involuntarily drop out of schooling.

A lot of the education problems of the Chakma students could have been resolved had some of the existing middle schools been upgraded to secondary level. For example, the Govt Middle School at Ratnapur village under Kharsang Circle is yet to be upgraded to secondary level despite recommendations by the three-member Govt. Inspection Team in July 2011. The Inspection Team pointed out that “Golakpur, Milanpur, Ratnapur, Bijoypur and Dharmapur –I, II, III villages will be benefitted if Ratnapur ME School is allowed to run Class-IX.”

The situation is equally abysmal in Chakma areas under Diyun Circle. There are only three secondary schools which are awfully short for a large number of students, both Chakmas and others. As a result, overcrowding remains a perennial problem in these schools in particular Diyun secondary school.

The issue of admission will be increasingly felt in the current academic session as more students have passed their Class 8th examinations. There are already about 150 Chakma students who are awaiting admission to Class IX in the current academic session. But it is feared that they would not get admission as the situation remained the same.

Education is the foundation for the development and progress of any society. The absence of secondary schools and denial of admission in the existing schools results in uncertain future of the students including rise in school dropout. School dropout children are more likely in the risk of being exploited as child labours, domestic servants, and even in anti-social activities.

Since you assumed office, your response to improve and develop the education sector in the state has been positive.

I, therefore, request your personal intervention to ensure admission of all the Chakma students from the ensuing session and upgrade the existing middle schools to end the recurring admission crisis.

Yours sincerely,

Tejang Chakma
On behalf of the Chakma students