Published: 09th February 2021
Informal school started by farmers' group at Delhi protest site resumes after two-week break
A group of farmers from Punjab's Anandpur Sahib had in December started the school in a makeshift tent for school going children who had accompanied their parents to the Singhu border protest site
A makeshift 'informal' school at Delhi's Singhu border, where farmers have been protesting the new agri laws, has resumed after a two-week break with less children owing to the tense situation following the tractor parade violence on Republic Day.
A group of farmers from Punjab's Anandpur Sahib had in December started the school in a makeshift tent for school going children who had accompanied their parents to the Singhu border protest site and those living in the slums nearby. Pioneered by writer Bir Singh and advocate Dinesh Chaddha, the temporary school is part of the multiple 'sewa' practices being offered at the protest site. Sukhwinder Singh Barwa, a resident of Roop Nagar district in Punjab, said they resumed the classes on February 5. "We started the school in the first week of December. There were over 170 students studying here. Due to the tense situation on Republic Day, we closed it on January 24. It was later resumed on Friday," Barwa said.
He said there were 30 local students who have never been to school before. "As the schools have opened and the internet was suspended here, most of the students who came here from Punjab and other states have gone back to attend their classes and to prepare for their upcoming exams. Now around 60 students come here. They are from class 1 to 7," he said.The timing of classes is from 11 am to 4 pm. "During morning hours from 8 am to 11 am, there is library time where people read books whatever they want according to the availability.
Earlier, we used to get almost every newspaper, however, after the restrictions were imposed, we only get few Hindi and Punjabi papers," Barwa said. "We are teaching students general subjects, including morale science and languages. We also have the history books of different religions and those who are interested can read them. There are eight to nine teachers who teach students in a group of 10 according to their class," he added. It's not just academic learning at the makeshift school but skill learning too. "Many students have tried their hands in painting also and they have done a really good job.
They have created several beautiful pictures on charts which we have displayed at 'Sanjhi Sath', the place where classes being held. Several people come here by their own and draw pictures and write slogans on charts," Barwa said. 'Sanjhi Sath' is a reference in Punjabi used for a place where people gather to have discussions. Maninder Singh, a resident of Ludhiana in Punjab, said children love them a lot. "Sunday is a holiday, but yesterday many students came to the school and urged us to take their classes. They wanted to study. "We have not planned for the future when the protest will end, but we will do something for the children" he said.
Maninder said the volunteers came in contact with each other at the protest site and started doing their work. Thousands of protesting farmers had clashed with the police during the tractor rally called by farmer unions on January 26 to highlight their demand for repeal of the Centre's three farm laws. Many protesters, driving tractors, reached the Red Fort and entered the monument. Some protesters even hoisted religious flags on its domes and the flagstaff at the ramparts, where the national flag is unfurled by the prime minister on Independence Day.