Schools in violence-hit Manipur are prepared to welcome students back after a two-month-long hiatus as Chief Minister N Biren Singh announced the reopening of schools in the state from July 5. The reopening will initially apply to classes 1 to 8, the chief minister said.
Despite the prevailing unrest and turmoil in the state, the teachers and other staff appear eager to reopen the schools and give their best to the students, who have been severely affected by the conflict after the pandemic.
When the Imphal Free Press made a visit to various government schools ahead of the reopening of schools, the staffs were seen actively engaged in cleaning the school campuses.
Some of them were seen clearing off the overgrown tall green grass, while others swept clean the dust that settled in the classrooms following the two-month-long closure of schools. Normal classes were suspended since the onset of the crisis on May 3 when the ethnic violence broke out in the state.
The unprecedented violence and arson that took place at several districts in the state on May 3-4 and the events that unfolded in the two months have left more than 130 people dead and destroyed thousands of houses, displacing over 60,000 people, including students.
As per the official report provided by the Education (S) Department, a total of 11,967 displaced students from classes 1 to 8 are currently residing in 336 relief camps set up across different districts in Manipur.
In order to facilitate the displaced students in the nearest schools, the Education (S) department said it had deployed one nodal officer in each of the relief camp and their data are being collected by the Control Room of the department mandated by 24 officials since June.
A total of 60.83 per cent of the displaced students in relief centres have been admitted to the nearest feasible schools, L Nandakumar, director of Education (S) said, speaking exclusively to the Imphal Free Press.
The department is awaiting data from some relief camps, and the number of admitted students is expected to increase, he told the IFP.
Nandakumar said the department through its nodal officers have been encouraging the students in the camps for admission in the “nearest feasible schools”.
Apart from providing textbooks, the Education (S) department is distributing stationery and sports items free of cost to the displaced students, the official said, adding that the department is also making arrangements to distribute school bags.
Admitting that around 150 schools are occupied by relief camps and central forces, the director said instruction has been given to the concerned Zonal Education Officers (ZEOs) to establish makeshift arrangements and work out alternatives to ensure the continuation of the education process.
The reopening decision aims to prevent further learning loss and ensure a smooth academic career for the students, the director said.
During a visit to the Modern Primary School located at Tera Lukram Leirak in Imphal West, it was observed that the staff led by the headmistress (in-charge) Kangabam Memcha, were diligently cleaning the premises.
Despite the deplorable condition of the infrastructure, the staff is committed to providing a clean and hygienic atmosphere for the students.
Similarly, at Keshamthong High School, a teacher named Hijam Baby Devi expressed concern over the educational setback faced by students due to the ongoing unrest.
"Despite the crisis situation, the teachers are prepared to give their best to ensure that the students, who have been deprived of education for the past two months, receive quality education," Baby said.
Chief Minister N Biren has stated that the reopening of schools for classes 9 to 12 will be considered once the displaced families are shifted to pre-fabricated houses.
The education minister has held a meeting with six student bodies in this regard, he said.
Earlier, the state government had issued a notification for the reopening of schools from June 21, but in view of the prevailing unrest situation, the order was deferred until the recent announcement of reopening from July 5 by the chief minister.