Odisha: Infrastructure Deficit No Deterrent For Children’s Day Celebration by Tribal Kids

Report by Badal Tah; Rayagada: Upgraded Project Upper Primary(PUP) school in Nathama, which is hardly five kilometers away from Rayagada city limit, has sixteen tribal girls and forty eight boys in the attendance roll. It is Children’s day today. There is no hustle bustle like its city counterpart where this day is celebrated in a grand way at the play ground of Gobinda Chandra Deb High School with welcome gates, a stage decorated with flowers, a bunch of flex banners, announcement through loudspeakers, a LCD projector with huge picture PROJECTION ready for the students, teachers and bureaucrats of the district sitting on chairs under a shamiyana to listen to the message of Chief Minister Naveen Pattanaik.

Juxtaposed to its city counterpart, the PUP school in Nathama does not have a motorable approach road from the village. Neither it has electricity though there is a dilapidated residential hostel attached to it with a strength of forty. The iron windows of the rooms have big holes and sometimes snakes creep in. The building is not whitewashed since last few years. The toilets constructed by SSA are defunct because of faulty design. There are two kids amusement slides- one constructed with cement and the other with cast iron; but both are badly damaged and of no use. It has to be noted that the school has a provision from class-I to VIII. “Mostly children from class VII and VIII do not stay back to study in this school as they go to the residential schools nearby run by SSD Deptt.’, said Sri Janakiram Sahu, Headmaster of the School.

In spite of many other infrastructure deficits in the school, one could notice the enthusiasm of neatly dressed tribal kids and the teachers. The discipline was reflected from the tiny girl students sitting in the front with butterfly clips on their heads, the organized keeping of slippers/chappals on the school varendah, clean & serene sorroundings with its own asthesticity in the presence of hills and forest around , a blooming kitchen garden, etc. Though there was no sound system available, the rhythmic clapping by the students after the speech of the teachers regarding the relevance of children’s day was really enchanting. No flex banner or welcome gate, but simple writing on the wall mounted black board was a real boost for the tribal kids.

Though many students could not tell properly about CM’s programme today, the enthusiastic teachers paraded all the pupils to the house of the school peon, who hails from the same village where the school was situated. Though the room was very congested, it was not at all a restraint for both teachers and students to see the CM in the TV and listen to his messages. The commitment of the teachers have enraged the interest in the children in spite of scores of problems.

Here both the students alongwith the teachers have turned the problems into prospects. Managing with available resources has become rule rather than disgruntlement. Nevertheless, basic infrastructure facilities like electricity, piped water in kitchen, dining hall and kitchen garden and toilets, regular maintenance of the hostel rooms, etc will complement the efforts of all inhabiting in the school.