With government school teachers in Naxal-dominated Gadchiroli staying away, schools run by Vishwa Hindu Parishad are mushrooming

With teacher absenteeism and other factors rendering government schools dysfunctional in Gadchiroli district, informal and unregulated ‘schools’ are cropping up by the dozen here.

For instance, there are around 250 Ekal Eklavya Vidyalayas being run in this district alone, according to former Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) Prant Pracharak, Rameshchandra Bagala.

“The Ekal Eklavya Vidyalayas (EEV) are run by the Laxmanrao Mankar Trust. This is a Naxal dominated area and no teacher is ready to go there to teach and these Zilla Parishad (ZP) schools are teacherless. The Ekal Eklavya Vidyalayas are being run with the permission of the ZP authorities. With the help of these Vidyalaya teachers, the ZP teachers fill up their attendance register and take salary from the government.”

Every morning from 8 am to 11 am, the EEV is run on the premises of ZP schools in Gadchiroli. ZP schools are supposed to teach state government curriculum but students here are taught shlokas and stotras from the Hindu Dharmashastras. “Students are made to memorise the mantras from the Hindu Shastras. In many places the administration is aware of it but in some places it’s going on without their permission,” said a teacher from one of the schools on condition of anonymity. Teachers are called “Acharayas” and “Suryanamskar” replaces physical training, which is taught in other ZP schools.

Confirming this, the Deputy Sarpanch of Korchi tehsil, Nandkishor Vairagade told The Hindu, “The Ekal Eklavya Vidyalayas are being run at 62 places in Korchi tehsil of Gadchiroli district. The ZP teachers do not want to go to these interior areas, so some young men from these areas have been asked to teach on contract basis.”

However, Secretary of the Laxmanrao Mankar Trust, Raju Hadap said that they have only 86 schools and not 250 as claimed by the VHP Prant Pracharak. “We have only 86 such schools in Gadchiroli and not 250. There is no politics involved in it. Even if it is happening in the ZP school premises, we have got nothing to do with them. But the students are of the ZP schools. The teachers in our schools are from the villages only.” Mr. Hadap denied that there is any involvement of the VHP in running the schools.

When the administration was contacted for further information, Education Officer (EO) of Gadchiroli, Rajesh Hire said, “We have sent the deputy EO to collect information about it and we have some information about it. On the tehsil level some people might be involved but the tehsil level officer has no authority to give such permission. If we get some concrete evidence then we will definitely act on it.”

Deputy ZP Chief Executive Officer, Gadchiroli, Kiran Kane currently in charge of the ZP, refused to comment on the matter but said that the Education Officer will be asked to inquire.

The schools start with chanting of Sanskrit prayer Pasayadan and ends with the Ganapati mantra. They are also taught Sharada Sravan, Deh Mandir Prarthana ,Ganapati Stotra and Maruti Stotra with the daily prayer being Om Jai Jagdish.