Loss of opportunity: Chenchu children whiling away their time instead of going to a school meant for them near Nagarjunasagar in Guntur district.
ETHIPOTHALA (Guntur dt.) :
Even while schools in other places face perennial scarcity of funds and poor infrastructure with classrooms filled to the brim, it is the other way round in the land of the primitive tribal group Chenchus.
To say there are more well-constructed ashram schools with staff quarters than the number of Chenchu children going into them is an understatement if takes their headcount in classrooms.
The upper primary residential school managed by the Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) Srisailam, for the Chenchus here, is a typical example. The sanctioned strength of the school is 400 and the fund flow and staffing pattern is in tune with it. But the attendance on Tuesday was 180 and the number of Chenchus stood at a mere 39 spread across classes I to VII. No class had more than five Chenchus. Others who made up for "lack of strength" included advanced tribals like Lambadas and a few Dalits.
Same is the case in B.K.V. Palem residential primary school near Nagarjuna Sagar dam. Of the 44, only 20 attended on Tuesday and the Chenchus accounted for only four. The scene repeated in the schools at neighbouring Murikimalla, BMC Colony, Peddmanthanala in Prakasam district.
Like most other benefits that do not reach them, it is clear that the schools meant for a primitive tribal group fighting disease and deprivation are used and abused by others. No effort is made to counsel and motivate Chenchu parents. Headmasters and teachers in charge of this task play the blame game. "We persuade but they do not come," was the refrain of the teachers.
A sinister design looks apparent. Cement concrete residential school buildings are constructed without any homework, as every new project brings a lot of money that could be shared in terms of percentages. Once built, more funds come their way for the upkeep of buildings, food, uniforms and books for Chenchu children. So, wonderful buildings abound but there are not many Chenchus. The trick is simple ? blame the Chenchus' so-called disinclination to study, admit others in their place and fudge the attendance registers.
"Much like the Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) method used for big infrastructure projects, a system is in operation here. Buildings come up where there are no Chenchus. Where there are Chenchus there are no schools. And where there are schools there are no teachers. There is a mismatch and it serves the purpose of officials out to make money in the name of Chenchus. A thorough re-assessment is required," says Sambasiva Rao of Banjara Development Society, a NGO working among Chenchus.
Source:K.Venkateshwarulu, the Hindu