By Hrishikesh Angom
IMPHAL, Aug 22: Education has been a neglected subject in the Aimol villages of Chandel district which have a comparatively lower literacy rate than others. Neither the state government nor local bodies have kept an eye on the education system in these villages.
Altogether there are nine Aimol villages under Tengnoupal A/C in Chandel district, namely Aimol Khullen, Aimol Chandonpokpi, Aimol Ngairong, Aimol Khoidomphai, Aimol Tampak, Aimol Chingnunghud, Aimol Khunyai, Aimol Kumbirol and Aimol Setu. These villages are located few kilometres eastward from Pallel bazar along the Imphal-Moreh Road (NH-39).
The nine Aimol villages have a population of about 4000 but there is not a single high school in the area except for some primary and junior high schools which are either under the department of education (S) or ADC and even government aided.
There are two primary schools under Chandel ADC at Aimol Khullen and Aimol Kumbirol, one junior high school and one primary school under the department of education (S) at Aimol Chingnunghud and Aimol Setu respectively. There are also two government aided primary schools at Aimol Ngairong and Aimol Tampak.
Most of these schools were established long back during 1960-1970 but owing to negligence of the government these schools are still in a deplorable condition with no proper building, classrooms, playground and toilets.
The Aimol Khullen Primary School under Chandel ADC has been imparting some education to the village children despite of various infrastructural deficits.
At present, there are about 50 students enrolled in the primary school but even these 50 students cannot be given proper education owing to the apathy of state government towards the education system of Aimol villages.
The Sarva Sikshya Abhiyan (SSA) is also not fully implemented in the Aimol Khullen Primary School. The school lacks so many things necessary for imparting education but the complaint has gone unheard for so many years.
The purpose of education is not limited just to learning academic things but it also requires lots of other things like health and hygiene which are part of students’ personality development.
These village schools do not have proper toilets resulting in poor sanitation conditions. Moreover, there is no playground for the students to have proper outdoor physical activities which is very much necessary for children.
Regarding such poor infrastructural development in the Aimol Khullen Primary School, the chairman of Aimol Literature Society, SL Warte stated that the school has been functioning under Chandel ADC for the last many years but still the concerned authority has not taken up any steps to improve the school which is imparting education to many village children.
The present school building needs to be renovated along with increasing the number of classrooms to accommodate more students in view of strengthening the education system of Aimol villages in Chandel district, he said.
Warte also stated that the concerned authority should pay proper attention to the development of Aimol Khullen Primary School which has been functioning amidst poor infrastructural setups for the last many years.
Improvement of education in Aimol villages would be beneficial not only to the Aimol tribes but also to the state in terms of human resource development, he noted.
The other Aimol Kumbirol primary school under Chandel ADC is also in a deplorable condition with no proper building and classrooms. Only few students are studying in this school which was established long back in 1970s.
The schools under the department of education (S), namely Aimol Chingnunghud Junior High School and Aimol Setu Primary School are also in the same condition as other schools of the Aimol villages.
The non-improvement of education system in these schools for the last many years is a clear sign of government’s apathy and negligence towards uplifting education in hill areas.
The two government-aided primary schools of Aimol Ngairong and Aimol Tampak have been functioning without any financial assistance from the government for the last many years. The teachers have been striving to impart education to the village children despite of various grievances they have against the government.
The school buildings are in bad shape with no proper classrooms, furniture, playground and toilets.
One primary student of Aimol village told IFP that he is studying at the government school merely because of his family’s poor economic condition; otherwise he could have studied in some well established English medium private school. He has to content himself with the kind of education he gets from the government school but the state government should at least have some compassion for the poor students who cannot afford education in private institutions, he said.
A parent of one of the students studying in the government school said that he has always wanted his sons and daughters to be well educated even if he cannot send his wards to the private schools. The government schools are giving the children some education but how can their future be good if the government neglects the education in hill areas, he noted.
He also stated that the government should try to uplift the education system by renovating the school buildings and providing all necessary requirements in terms of infrastructures and teaching staffs.
Speaking to IFP, the president of Aimol Tribe Union Manipur (ATUM), Athoi Bongte stated that the union has been demanding for the improvement of education in the Aimol villages of Chandel district but the state government remains blind to the demands of the union.
The union would desire the upgradation of Aimol Khullen Primary School to a junior high school and that of Chingnunghud Junior High School to a high school. The concerned authority should look into this proposal as the Aimol villages of Chandel are lagging behind in terms of education, he said.
Athoi also stated that the six schools of Aimol villages which are either under the department of education (S), ADC or government-aided should be developed equally by the government.
The villagers are mostly economically backward and so it would be a great burden for the parents to send their wards to private schools which charge huge amounts of money as tuition fees, he said.
He further maintained that it would be good for all the villagers if the government schools are fully developed for imparting quality education to the poor villagers of Aimol villages of Chandel.
Athoi also asserted that the state government would be pressurized to give top priority to uplift the education system and the Aimol Tribe Union Manipur would also spearhead campaigns for quality education in the state.
The other Aimol village, Unnapal, which lies in proximity with Pallel bazar along the Imphal-Moreh Road (NH-39) is also lagging behind in the field of education. There is only one primary school in the village which has a population of about 500.
The condition of the Unnapal Primary school is also not an exception for the government schools which are devoid of proper infrastructural setups.
[This news story has been written with support and as part of UNACCO Media Fellowship on Education Scenario in Manipur-2010.]