PERAMBRA(KOZHIKODE: It was not just people’s finances that took a beating when Covid struck. The pace of social initiatives was also affected. The campaign started at Government Welfare LP School in Perambra was one such initiative.
For over a decade until 2019, the school was an example of discrimination, as only the children from Sambhava community, a Scheduled Caste (SC) group, enrolled there. No family from non-SC communities would send their children there. After several protests and campaigns, some families took a progressive step two years ago and sent their children to the school.
Then came Covid. This year, only four students enrolled in the school in Class 1. All of them are from Sambhava community. “In 2019, some families from the Muslim community enrolled six students following the efforts of the members of Kerala School Teachers Movement, the teachers’ body of the Welfare Party of India. It was a remarkable move. Last year too we managed to get five students from the Muslim community. However, Covid spoiled things,” said Abdul Rasheed, who was one of the non-SC parents who sent their child to the school.
“Before 2019, the school was labelled as ‘Dalit-only’ and had students only from Sambhava families living in nearby Chermala colony. Others used to hesitate as they did not have a good impression about the students,” he said.
The admission of non-SC students paved the way for social change. However, the pandemic and subsequent lockdown hurt the campaign. “Usually, during February and March, school teachers and PTA members would carry out special school admission campaigns. We would visit every home and try to convince parents to send their kids to the school.
This time, due to Covid, there were limitations,” said Shantha Kuniyil, headmistress of the school. She said the Muslim students enrolled in the school hailed from the Kavumthara area, which is far from the institution. “Due to Covid, families in the area now prefer to send their kids to nearby schools,” she said.