Jan 11, 2019
By Kushagra Dixit, Mukki (Madhya Pradesh), (IANS) On the intervening night of February 28 and March 1, 2002 when Gujarat was engulfed in flames, Lt. Gen Zameer Uddin Shah, met the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi, in the presence of the then Defence Minister George Fernandes, at 2 am in Ahmadabad and gave him a list of immediate requirements to enable the Army columns to fan out to restore law and order.

Situated at the Mukki zone, the school -- named after the famous mascot of the Kanha Tiger Reserve “Bhoorsingh the Barasingha (swamp deer)” -- introduces the tribal children for the first time to picture books, toys -- and even computers and projectors.

Attracting children from 10 neighbouring villages, mostly from the Baiga tribe, Kanha Bhoorsingh Playschool brings them together with children of forest officials. They study in the same “smart classrooms”, eat the same food and cavort together in the same playground.

Ashu Bisen, one of the teachers in the school, told IANS that most tribal children are extremely shy and sensitive, and mostly scared in the beginning.

“We have to interact with them carefully and start from scratch. Most of the children don’t have toys at home; they see computers, projectors, and in some cases the picture books, for the very first time. We have to be very patient with them. But given time, they show commendable results,” she said.

S.K. Khare, the assistant director of the Kanha National Park, said the idea was to eliminate the inferiority complex that tribal children had when they interacted with the outside world

Madhya Pradesh has one of the largest tribal populations in the country, mostly living around the forests. Though marginalised, rising awareness of education among the tribal communities often encourages them to move towards

urban habitats. But tribal children often lag behind as they can’t relate to their city counterparts.

“What we do here is an attempt to bridge the gap between mainstream and tribal children, because some day these children will move out and they often feel left out. Our aim is to build a foundation so that when they go for better and higher schooling, then they do better,” Khare told IANS.

Incidentally, the school, operational since 2017, runs in the bungalow which was allotted to Khare when he was posted here. However, he decided to shift to a smaller accommodation and put the bungalow to a better use. It was then refurbished to have three classrooms, a computer lab, two projector rooms, a mini library, a staff room and a kitchen.

Run by the Last Wilderness Foundation, along with some other 20 odd donors, forest officials also send their children to the school which offers education till upper kindergarten. School teachers are all wives of forest officers.

As the recess bell rings, students dressed in their red school uniforms collect the toys of their choice and rush to play. After another ring they assemble for their meals in the lawn. Sitting on the carpet, the caretakers serve them a freshly-cooked, nutritious meal. After the meal, a batch leaves to the projector room for the movie day, while another group leaves for computer room.

“We provide them books, school dresses, bags and meals here. Although we have also kept a small fee of Rs 150 per month, in case of very poor families, we generally drop the fee,” said Nisha Vaishya, another teacher.

According to Khare, the idea of charging a fee is to keep the value of education intact. “It also honors the self-respect of the tribes who don’t want anyone’s charity.”

“The school is showing good results and more and more families are sending their children, especially after seeing how our students are being groomed. Everyone aspires to get quality education, especially those who are marginalised,” Khare said adding that considering the potential they saw in the children, it shows they have a great future.

“What we see as national parks today

Web Design, Website Development, Content Management System, SEO by Intesols.com.au