BALASORE: Lack of infrastructure, study materials and shortage of staff continue to plague many Odia-medium schools in the border areas of the State. With the teachers receiving no salary for a year now, these schools might face closure in the near future.
For the spread of Odia language and education of Odia people residing in the areas bordering West Bengal (WB), Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh (AP), Utkal Sammilani had opened nearly 562 schools. A socio-cultural organisation, it used to manage these schools with assistance from the State Government. But with funds drying up, these schools are facing hard times with no proper infrastructure in place.
A teacher of a school in Dantun, Sisir Mahanta said though over 100 students study in each of these schools, there is lack of basic facilities. The students are huddled into a single room in the absence of a proper building. “There are no toilets or drinking water supply. Mid-day meal is non-existent,” he claimed.
Another teacher Sanjurani Jena said earlier they were getting ` 500 and though later it was enhanced to ` 1200, they have not received their salary for the past 14 months. “It is difficult for the poor people like us to teach without salary for such a long period,” she rued.
The Government often claims that there would be no dearth of funds for promotion of education, but the reality is far from it. Students are making a beeline to these schools in the border and cut-off areas with little option in hand, but lack of study materials proves to be a dampener.
Educationalists pointed out that though these schools, known as Lipi Siksha Kendras, were opened to allow students learn only Odia letters and study up to Class-III, there is an urgent need to upgrade them to Class-VII. They demanded that these schools be brought under SSA scheme for the development of infrastructure and education.
Recently, three committees were constituted to inspect these institutions in WB, AP and Jharkhand. So far, of the 82 schools in WB, the team led by Deputy Director Supriya Mallick, CI of Schools MK Ray and Jaleswar DI of Schools Surendra Sahu have inspected only 12 schools. “We have met the Education Minister of WB and discussed several aspects on how to improve education in these areas. We will submit a report to the Government in this regard soon,” said an official.