Report by Badal Tah; Rayagada: Mrs.Guha Punam Tapas Kumar, IAS, Collector Rayagada is proposing to have a thorough safety audit of schools, especially residential in nature in the first phase. The process will follow in other schools including the privately managed ones. There are residential schools run by the ST SC Development(SSD) Department. Apart from this SSD dept runs numbers of hostels where the inmates study in Department of School & Mass Education(SME). There are also number of schools run by the SME dept. There are eleven model schools-one in each block, two Ekalbya Model Residential Schools, A Kendriya Vidyalaya, several private managed English schools. Hardly a habitation is left out from the purview of formal education.
In these number of government schools, there is an infrastructural abundance and sound provision of annual allotment for recurring expenditure. Staff deficit in the govt schools has been a concern in these schools and for the local administration. In spite of this, some schools excel in maintaining minimum quality standards and others do not. For example, Biranarayanpur ME school under SME deptt and Bhakurguda Model Residential School under SSD deptt are two such successful initiatives. Not only these two schools emphasize in students adhering to curriculum, sports, cleanliness in health and sanitation, quality cooking of food, skill development, digital empowerment, etc but also leadership development and management of resources available around them.
During the year 2013, after receiving a report from one of the members of Child Welfare Committee, Rayagada several news reporters including this correspondent exposed the then headmaster of the school, who was sexually exploiting the under-aged girl children of the school. After finding it true, this correspondent filed an FIR before SP through SMS from his registered cellphone. The teacher got suspended. The journey from 2013 where the then headmaster created nuisance to the present state at 2018 is certainly a sense of achievement. The present Headmaster joined during 2014 and after this he has not seen back, He agrees that this is just possible for a concerted effort of primarily children, supporting & teaching staff of the school with guidance from the district administration and some wellwishers from within the district and without. In spite of several material and human resource crunch there is no grumbling. There is a spirit of team work.
“If any institution relatively excels than others, the expectations of the general public go high. Visitors, govt authorities, people’s representatives make a beeline to this institution. This is exactly the reason why people point out deficits of even slightest nature. Pressure mounts on the same institution to excel more. Same people tend to ignore scores of institutions nearby having lots of irregularities in maintaining quality in spite of proportionate amount of allotments”, said Sri Kirti Chandra Sahu, a senior scribe of the district.
“Let’s not create islands. Let the teaching staff be deputed to other schools to replicate the models they established and sustained in their schools. Let the district administration create a team of teacher trainers and conduct Training of Trainers(ToT) in the entire district so that the process can be replicated. Let the spirited team be exposed to other models inside the state and outside. Let the District Collector be path finder and lead”, said Sri Rabindra Patakhandala, District Convenor of Rayagada Zilla Suchana Manch.
Collector Guha, who prioritises education as a tool of empowerment in this tribal hinterland of Rayagada, agrees to work on constructive feedback and proposes to further strengthen the ongoing safety audit in each school in the light of constitutional bindings like Right to Education Act, Sexual Harassment Act and formation of Internal Complaint Committees, Prevention of Child Sexual Offences Act(POCSO) and several other rules and parameters promulgated by the state.