Friday, 24 August 2012

Educational deprivation

Last year, eighty-eight students belonging to the Chakma community of Arunachal Pradesh had suffered one academic lost due to denial of admission in secondary schools. These poor and hapless students did not get admission despite interventions of the National Human Rights Commission and National Commission for Protection of Child Rights. The interventions by the National Human Rights Institutions had little impact due to willful non-compliance of the orders. The state government did not submit reports despite reminders issued by the Commissions. Finally, when the reports were submitted it had no relevance as by then the school academic session was well over.

The recent direction of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) makes the picture clearer. Taking cognizance of a complaint filed by Asian Centre for Human Rights, the NHRC asked the state government to submit report, within two weeks, regarding denial of admission to the Chakma students to secondary school. No report was forthcoming despite reminders. It takes a final reminder on 28 February 2012 to get the state government moving. Yet, it took almost two months to submit reports. In a letter dated 18 April 2012, the Commissioner & Secretary (Education), Government of Arunachal Pradesh, Itanagar has forwarded reports obtained from various authorities of the State Education Department.

But the reports submitted are not legible. In its latest proceedings the NHRC noted “The Commission perused the reports which are very dim and not legible.” This left the Commission with the only option to ask for clear and legible reports. Accordingly, the Commissioner & Secretary (Education), was directed to send clear and legible copies of the reports within six weeks. The time given has no value now as the students lost a year.

The story was written in advance by the state government and the NHRC was made to do what it wanted. Yet, another delay. The delay is not hard to understand. It was deliberate and has two reasons.

First, the state government has no answers for the academic loss of the students. So, illegible reports were purposely submitted to further the delay.

Second, the Chakmas are not recognized as citizens and not treated equally. They are kept out of government scheme. The state does not want to see the development of the Chakma community. Education is a key to development of any society. Now, the denial of education opportunity has become a tool to keep the Chakmas in dark.

Nothing will compensate the loss suffered by the students. Their future has been destroyed. This is not one off case. Many Chakma children are silently dropping out due to lack of access to schools over the years. They have only one option left to get married early and become parents of multiple of children. Yet, the state complained that the population of the state is increasing due to influx from states like Mizoram and Tripura.

The question is whether the Chakmas of Mizoram, where they have their own autonomous district council, and Tripura, where the Chakmas have all opportunities including education and employment, will come to Arunachal Pradesh to live in destitution.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Principal forcefully removes Chakma students from school

By Tejang Chakma

IN A shocking move, the principal of a government school has forcibly removed six students in Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh on 21 August 2012. The students were asked to collect their school leaving certificates and leave the school forthwith while they were attending a class.

On August 21, the six students, as usual, went to school clueless that the day would be their last day in the school. The 9th standard students of the Government Higher Secondary School, Miao in Changlang district belong to the Chakma community. This is the first time the school had admitted Chakma students since 1995, made possible only following interventions by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).

As per information received by this citizen journalist, P Nebang, Principal of the school, directed the students to leave the school as their presence in the school 'may invite physical attacks on them by students of other communities'. The Principal while directing them to collect their school leaving certificate (SLCs) asked them to take admission at a school in a different administrative circle. The students, having no option, left the school but did not collect the SLCs.

Prior to this shocking decision of the Principal, the Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC), Miao in a letter dated on 17 August 2012 summoned the guardians of the six Chakma students to his office to discuss the admission issue of their wards. As directed, the guardians of the six students met the ADC, Miao on 21 August. The ADC, Miao informed them that the Chakma students cannot be allowed to study in the school due to opposition by the local communities and that there was   a likelihood of violence against them by other students if they continue to attend classes. The ADC further stated that if the Chakma students are harmed he will not be able to save them as it will take at least hours to reach them and to provide police protection. He will not be responsible for any untoward incidents against them and therefore he will not allow the Chakma students to continue in the school.

When the guardians requested the ADC to at least allow their wards to study for this session, he stated that “if they are allowed to continue studies it will be difficult to get them leave the school later”.

It is important to mention here that the Chakma students never complained of any harassment by other students who treated them well since they were admitted in the school. It is alleged that these students were removed from the school due to ethnic origin. The school authorities and the administration allegedly do not want any Chakma students to study in this school. This school is the only secondary level school in the Miao circle.

This citizen journalist has further learnt that eight Chakma students were removed from the school on 13 August on the same ground. Pursuant to interventions of NCPCR a total of 14 Chakma students were admitted in the school. These students are yet to get admission and are on the verge of losing a precious academic year.

The school where the Chakma students were asked to take admission is a middle school, which has been recently upgraded to secondary level, is far from their villages and there is no infrastructure including teaching staff. The school is upgraded only on paper.

Published in, 23 August 2012