Coimbatore

Tribal children face a bleak future after SSA stops funding for school

Tribal students at the residential school near Kil Kotagiri in Nilgiris district.   | Photo Credit: M_Sathyamoorthy;M_Sathyamoorthy -

More than 25 tribal school children have essentially become illegal squatters inside a government school building after the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) stopped funding for the school since last year.

According to members of the Bomman Nehru Yuva Kendra, Wings Trust, that continues to run the ‘Residential Special Training Center for Out of School Children’ near Kotagiri by raising their own funds, more than 100 children had been studying in the school till the funding was cut in April 2016.

Speaking to The Hindu, E.M. Ramkumar, trustee of Wings Trust, said that the school mostly teaches tribal kids belonging to the Irular and Kurumbar communities in the age group of 5-14.

Dropouts

“The school is geared towards imparting education to school dropouts up to Class 8, and has been functional for over 16 years. For most kids, this is the only viable option of having any sort of education as they live in really remote villages,” said Mr. Ramkumar.

R. Masani, a student who has been studying in the school since 2014 , said that she couldn’t attend school near her village at Vakkanamaram due to animal movement and lack of transport. She said that she felt safe and enjoyed studying in the school, despite the lack of funding.

Since funding was stopped, the students were moved to a disused building at the local government primary school, where the children stay and study. Some of the classes are also held outside when there is not enough lighting left within the building.

Two teachers, a cook and a hostel warden are still employed to teach the 28 kids still left studying in the school, with members of the Wings Trust claiming that they spend around ₹3 lakh every year to keep the school going. The school, and the students who depend on it, are waging a losing battle trying to get funding again from the SSA to ensure that they can continue their education, but seemingly to no avail.

When contacted, Chief Education Officer T. Ganeshamoorthy said that the school was asked to close down as it did not meet SSA norms.

“The school is run by a private NGO and there were lots of concerns about its functioning.

Moreover, they don’t have any clearance to stay at the current building and we are taking action to evict them,” he said, claiming that the school did not meet the norms set by the SSA.


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Printable version | Jun 14, 2021 4:39:50 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/tribal-children-face-a-bleak-future-after-ssa-stops-funding-for-school/article18350682.ece

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