Published: 01st April 2022
Kerala closes 344 single-teacher schools for tribal students. Teachers turn sweepers
Students, teachers and activists term the move 'cruel'. Future of tribal children now at risk, they claim
As many as 344 single teachers who have been working in the tribal areas in Kerala will find themselves relegated to the position of sweepers on Friday, April 1, as the state government has decided to close down the schools manned by them. The teachers as well as the students find the move cruel. TNIE had reported on March 6 about the decision to close down the multi-grade learning centres (MGLC) and the teachers’ plight.
KR Usha Kumari, who has been in charge of Kunnathumala School in Amboori in the Tiruvananthapuram district for the past 23 years, is a bit disappointed that she will no longer be among children who aspire to read, write and achieve success through learning. “When I told my students that Friday is the last class for them at the MGLC, they thought I was bluffing. Many local people still believe I will return after a week’s break. Maybe because they are so used to seeing me trek 14 km of mountainous terrain five days a week for the last 23 years,” said an emotional Usha Kumari.
Gov't decides to clear single teachers’ salary dues
A senior official with the general education department said close to 500 vacancies of full-time and part-time sweepers have been reported. Higher Education Principal Secretary APM Mohammed Hanish, meanwhile, told TNIE that the state government has not yet taken a final decision on the single teacher’s appointment as sweepers. “We’ll try to resolve it,” said Hanish. The government has decided to clear their salary dues for up to 12 months. The tribal activists have expressed concern about the future of the children.
The Gothra Saradhi project aimed at bringing children from tribal hamlets to their nearest schools by providing them free transport with the help of local bodies is not functioning anymore. “Gothra Sarathi project has not been revived yet after the pandemic. The closing down of single-teacher schools means our children will end up as school dropouts. Most of the tribal hamlets will witness that. Recently, I saw in Idukki how tribal children had to walk more than 5 km to their school as the Gothra Sarathi project has not been working,” said activist Ajay Kumar.