Academic session to begin from Jan 1st; Fate of Amchang students hangs in balance
• Future of 257 students of demolished school in Amchang hangs in balance
• The district administration is yet to decide on the rehabilitation of the students
• The school was demolished just before the annual examinations
• New academic session to start from January 1, school authorities in a fix
• JHS was a government recognised school, government officials say will verify documents
• Students say they won’t be able to afford to travel long distances in case the school shifts
Tanmay Kalita is unsure if he would be able to go to a school from the next academic session. He is a student of Janashimalu High School (JHS) which was razed to the ground during the eviction drive carried out in Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary on November 27 and 28.
Tanmay had appeared for the High School Leaving Certificate (HSLC) examinations this year. His fate is shared by many students in the locality that witnessed an anti-eviction drive by the government last month.
Close to 257 students between classes 6-10 were enrolled in the school. The district administration is yet to decide on the education of these students.
Headmaster of JHS, Kanak Kalita, said that they were yet to receive a formal notice from the district administration regarding the rehabilitation of the students. “We are in touch with the school inspector but have not received any written order for shifting the students to another place,” he said.
The school was demolished just before the annual examinations which were scheduled to begin from December 6. The school authorities then took the help of a local tent-house owner and set up two small tents which are currently functioning as the make-shift arrangement for classrooms.
The students have appeared in the examination in different shifts in these two tents. Further, the practical examinations for classes 9 and 10 began from December 15.
More than 700 families were rendered homeless in the eviction drive that attracted a great deal of attention from the media.
Amchang residents said that after the eviction drive, the community members and local NGOs came forward and helped them to set up the tents from scratch and also donated desks and chairs for the students and teachers.
On the orders of the Deputy Commissioner Kamrup (Metro), M Angamuthu, a team comprising officials from the district administration and education department had visited the area and distributed books and bags among students as many of them had lost their belongings when their houses were demolished.
Despite difficulties, the school authorities are also continuing to provide mid-day meals for the students. However, in the absence of any building, they have been forced to cook in the open and without LPG cylinders.
New academic session to start from January 1, school authorities in a fix
The teachers of JHS said that the new academic session would begin from January 1 but they are concerned about the future of the school. The admission process is expected to be completed by the end of December.
“If we do not receive any direction from the government before the beginning of the new session, then we don’t know what to do. We even do not want to continue using this space, since that will be against the government’s orders,” said, Kamal Das, a Hindi teacher at the school.
According to the authorities, the High School was a government-recognised school and they had also received financial aid from the government from time to time for running and the upkeep of the school.
“A separate building with a kitchen for preparation of mid-day meal was also constructed by the government last year, but that too was demolished during the eviction drive,” said the headmaster of the school, Kanak Kalita.
He added that they had protested during the demolition drive and had even showed the relevant documents of the school but “nobody listened to us or paid any attention.”
On the other hand, district elementary education officer of Kamrup (Metro), Buli Gogoi, said that the deputy commissioner has directed her to monitor everything related to the matter along with the circle officer.
“Nothing has been finalised yet but we are looking at sites to shift the school there. We will also have to first verify the documents of the school as it was not a provincialised school,” said Gogoi.
‘Won’t be able to afford travelling if the school shifts’: Students
Students feel that they may not be able to afford travelling to long distances if their school is shifted.
“We do not have enough money to travel everyday if our classes are held somewhere else,” said Mandira Das, a class 8 student of JHS. She has two siblings and her family is engaged in farming and selling milk for earning their livelihood.
Her mother said that they earn just enough to manage their household expenses. “We will not be able to spare money to cover the travel expenses. The majority of the population in the area belong to the low income group.”
Another student said that his house was narrowly saved from getting demolished as the drive had stopped on the third day. “If the drive had continued, then our house would have been destroyed too,” he said adding that many of his friends, whose houses were destroyed, had left the area to settle somewhere else.
Residents informed that there was no electricity supply as the power had been snapped since the first day of the demolition drive. In the absence of electricity, the students studied for the examination with lamps donated by NGOs or with candles.