Board exams nearing, but schools in Kandhamal turned into relief camps

October 27th, 2008 - 12:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Kandhamal (Orissa), Oct 27 (IANS) Students and their parents in Kandhamal district are a worried lot. Though board examinations are just four months away, 40 schools in this Orissa district are closed due to the widespread anti-Christian violence that engulfed the region and have been turned into camps for the displaced people and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel.”Yes, 40 schools are closed. The situation is volatile here,” District Collector Krishan Kumar told IANS.

“There are around 300 students in our school. It is occupied by CRPF personnel and we have not been holding any classes for the last two months,” said Bhagaban Das, headmaster of the Sarangada High School in Kandhamal.

As per Orissa board rules, every school conducts two examinations - pre-test and test - before sending students to appear for the Class 10 board examinations. Those who fail the ‘test examination’ cannot appear for the board exam. The board examination is scheduled for March 2009.

“We are yet to conduct pre-test and test examinations, leave alone sending a final list of students to the Orissa Board of Secondary Education,” said Sarat Chandra Kothadalai, a retired headmaster who still goes to school to teach due to the shortage of teachers in the region.

Dinabandhu Pradhan, sarapanch (village head) of the Sarangada Gram Panchayat, said the panchayat had appealed to the school inspector to allow it to hold classes in a nearby upper primary school, but that has not happened.

“We are now appealing to the district collector. Unless we start classes, our students will fail,” Pradhan said.

He said the violence the district witnessed might have been due to both religious and political reasons but it was affecting the career of thousands of students.

According to an estimate, over 2,000 students could suffer due to the ongoing trouble in the district.

“Our school has been closed since Aug 27. Displaced villagers (victims of anti-Christian violence) are staying in the school. A group of security men is also staying there. This time the students will fail,” said Praful Panda, a local businessman staying close to the Habak High School in the district.

Maheswar Kahar, father of a student in Phulbani, said: “My daughter too is worried. I don’t know what to do.”

According to the district administration, the relief and CRPF camps will continue to be located in schools at least till December. “It may continue, depending on the situation,” the district collector said.

The killing of Swami Laxmanananda, a Hindu religious leader, and four of his supporters by unidentified gunmen in his ashram in Kandhamal Aug 23 triggered anti-Christian violence.

While Maoists have claimed responsibility for the murders, the Hindu leader’s supporters have insisted that Christians were behind the murder. The Orissa Police are investigating the case.

At least 38 people, including a CRPF trooper, lost their lives in the clashes. While over 3,000 houses, mostly belonging to Christians, were destroyed or vandalized in Kandhamal, over 23,000 people fled their villages and are staying in relief camps.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in South Asia |