About 15,000 children in Mizoram, aged six to fourteen, are deprived of schooling even though the northeastern State is India’s second most literate after Kerala, an official report said.

“After finding that about 15,000 children, mostly tribals, are deprived of formal education, the State’s mission of Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) sent education volunteers as mobile teachers in the interior villages,” a report of the Mizoram education department said.

The mobile teachers would persuade the children and their parents to enrol themselves in government schools.

According to the report, the children deprived of education were mainly concentrated in Lunglei, Lawngtlai and Saiha districts of southern Mizoram and Mamit district in the east, adjacent to Tripura.

Of the 15,000 illiterate children, 40 per cent were school dropouts and the remaining had never been enrolled in schools. In Mizoram, 88.80 per cent of the 9,00,000 people are literate.

“The main reasons for staying away from educational institutions were poverty, child labour, absence of schools in their and adjacent villages and parents’ ignorance,” the report added.

It said: “Majority of the children who are not attending schools belong to Chakma and Reang (communities) as the two communities are primitive and nomadic tribes and practise ‘Jhum cultivation’ (shifting or slash and burn cultivation).”

“It is hard to bring tribal children to schools due to their shifting from one village to another frequently,” the report added.

In the mountainous state of Mizoram, education was first initiated and popularised by the British. Missionaries were responsible for the growth and institutionalisation of education in the State, bordering Myanmar and Bangladesh. The first educational institution in Mizoram was initiated by missionaries in the Aizawl region in 1897. Later, three more government primary schools opened in Aizawl in 1898.

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