Guwahati, Thursday, December 4, 2014
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Where villagers contribute for teachers’ salaries
SANJOY RAY
 NAGRIJULI, Dec 3 – The ordeal that they were subjected to during the ‘All Clear Operation’ against the ULFA in Bhutan is still evident in the eyes of the villagers in Baksa district on the Indo-Bhutan border. Once a hub of militant activities and counter-insurgency operations, some of the remotest villages under the Nagrijuli block in Tamulpur constituency continue to make a mockery of the Government’s outreach policies.

 However, with rock solid grit and determination, coupled with their never-say-die attitude, these villagers have made a valiant attempt to change the script for generation next in the greater Nagrijuli block.

Deciding to put up a fight on their own in a pathbreaking manner, inhabitants of villages under the block on the remote Indo-Bhutan border stretch have decided to bridge the teacher-student ratio gap of the schools in the locality on their own.

Every villager now contributes from their hard-earned money to pay the salary of some additional schoolteachers in greater public interest. It is perhaps the only government-run school where the teachers are paid salaries by the villagers and not from the Government treasury.

The innovative route which the mixed population of these villages has taken to, has injected a new sense of hope, which is ideally the job of those voted to power.

With the number of girl students enrolled in the schools every year increasing, the novel intervention has assumed even greater significance.

Set up in 1970, Gopinath Bordoloi Middle English School at Mahendra Nagar is one such beneficiary where three teachers have been appointed and are being paid salaries by the locals.

“We have seven sanctioned posts and there came a time when only two teachers, including me, were running the school. Classes could not be conducted properly due to the shortage of teaching staff and it was then when the idea was conceived,” Lohit Urpetee, headmaster of the school, told The Assam Tribune.

“Most schools in our areas were either with a single teacher or two compared to hundreds of students. Under the system, education was just an eyewash,” said Girish Basumatary, a social worker and a senior citizen of the locality.

The villager-appointed teachers are paid Rs 3,000 per month, he said.

“We have gone through a lot of hardship in the last couple of decades. Hardly anything has happened in the name of development. During the Bhutan operation and years thereafter, we lived in utter fear. Things have changed on the law-and-order front, but development is still a distant dream. We want a better future for our children and to fetch that quality education is a must,” Basumatary said.

“The Pub Goabari Lower Primary School has just one teacher against 200 students while the Paschim Goabari Lower Primary School till recently had no teacher, and we had to bear the salary of a teacher there as well till the Government finally appointed a teacher. As the villagers had limited income, we are doing it only where teachers are required the most,” he said.

The Nagrijuli block has five ME besides a number of LP schools, all running with a skeletal teaching staff.

“We can no longer afford to wait and see lives of our children spoiled and so, we decided to raise money from each villager to pay the teachers’ salaries,” another villager said.

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