63 students from remote settlements utilising the facility

The future of 63 tribal students studying at the Champakkad Government Tribal Lower Primary School, inside the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, is hanging in the balance as the authorities are yet to provide recognition to the hostel facility at the school.

The only government school in Kanthalloor grama panchayat, the schools has played a pivotal role in providing education to tribal children from Alampetty, Karimutty, Eechampetty, Puravayal, Palappetty, Pongampally, Vannamthura, Kanakkayam, Pottappallam, Cherukad, Muniyara and Dhandukombu settlements. However, due to the alleged delay in getting recognition from the District Tribal Project Officer, the hostel at the school is under threat of closure.

As the inmates of the hostel belong to remote forest settlements, they will have to discontinue their studies once the facility is closed down, according to members of the school Parent Teacher Association (PTA).

The school that is situated 15 km away from Marayur was established in 1958 to provide education to the children of Hill Pulaya tribes. A hostel was started along with the school to provide accommodation to the students as the members of the tribe live scattered over a wide area in the forest. The hostel was detached from the school in 2000 when it was shifted to a rented house at remote Karimutty, allegedly due to lobbying by some forest officials. Many students opted out of the school then, they said.

The demands to restore the hostel facility fell on deaf ears for long. However, the last panchayat council accepted the proposal of the PTA; it launched the Scheduled Tribes Empowerment and Protection project and the hostel facility at the school was restored.

The present panchayat council also took a favourable decision towards the project and helped in providing admission to 63 students at the hostel during the 2011-'12 academic year. However, the District Tribal Project Officer is yet to provide recognition to the hostel.

Gopakumar, president, PTA, said that if the hostel was not provided immediate recognition, they would have to send the 63 inmates back to their kudis, which might derail their studies.

He said that the district administration was yet to respond to many of the proposals to continue the hostel facility at the school.

Keywords: tribal students