We witness the desperation of urban parents to send their children to the best schools availableThe anxiety among, majority of parents residing in the village of Bijalhatti as well. The only difference, however, is that the rural parents do not have a choice.
While Bijalhatti village is lucky enough to have a school establishment funded by the tribal welfare, there are people of Thadasalhatti, Ittarai and Mahanttam villages who do not even have one. Thus children from class one to eight travel from these three villages and come to their school in Bijalhatti.
The bus drops them at 7.30 in the morning and they remain in the school till 6.30 in the evening. Even though the school has a hostel,yet nobody uses it since there is a constant threat of wild animals in the forest of Satyamangalam. The usual strength that shows up is 46-53 out of a total of 73 students enrolled in the school, according to the headmaster. After checking the records, the headmaster of the school said that students seldom drop out of school. There are 38 boys and 35 girls currently studying there. He said that students and parents are quite enthusiastic about education. Thus most of the girls only get married after completing the school.
The school comprises two sections, , primary and upper primary, class 1-6 and 6-8 respectively. The fact that the school has just one teacher teaching English, mathematics, science and social science is its biggest problem. Even though there is a vacancy, no teacher has been recruited as yet. “The recruitment will be done by the tribal welfare department. The education department has no role to play,” the headmaster of the school said. There is a current requirement of around four more teachers.
Since Bijalhatti lies in the Satyamangalam forest area, there is a high degree of animal attacks that take place. Due to the smell of the frequently grown crops by the villagers such as jackfruit, ragi and sugarcane, elephants are attracted. Also, there is a constant fear of leopard and tiger attacks in the region. The difficulties in the region along with the meagre salary of Rs 4000 compound resistance among teaching aspirants.
The headmaster said that the government provides them with a house to stay,but without any facility, and hence the staff prefer staying in the town of Satyamangalam. In fact, none of the students stays in the hostel because of the fear of animal attacks.
The school provides separate toilets for girls and boys but they seldom use it. “They are still shy to use toilets and find it inconvenient,”he added.
The school which has been established since 1975 has witnessed some of its students pursuing higher studies in the town. “There is a secondary school in Hasanur village. They study there till tenth.”However, the students who prove to be good in studies get scholarship from the government if they pursue their education further.
“The problem with that is most of the students cannot get the scholarship because they don’t score the requisite marks. That is because of lack of teachers here,” said Ithuraj, who is a parent of two children and resides in Bijalhatti village.
The school offers a full day meal system. Students are also offered tea in the evening and made to have early dinner as well.
“Sports such as Kabaddi, cricket and Kho-kho form an integral part of the school here. There is also a medical camp in school very often,” says the headmaster. “We are fully funded by the tribal welfare. It is Rs750 per student per month. Although we get books from Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan,” he added.
However, it was indeed sad to notice that on a particular day only 16 of 73 children showed up. In the era of career counsellors and dream chasers, what will we say to the children in Bijalhatti whose aspirations go beyond just a farmer?