Hundreds and students, boys and girls, and their guardians, from Mehandora, Dedhua, Milki tola, Kirkiri, Azimabad and Chilhar villages in Agiaon Assembly constituency in Bihar organised a Sadak Par School on 4 May 2023. This was assisted by the activists of AIKM and AIARLA who have taken up the issue of children’s education on priority.
The School was held just like any other school. It began with the ringing of the bell followed by the usual prayer and singing the national anthem. Shri Bhushan Kumar, principal of a High School in Karwasin took Science class, Suraj Kumar who runs a coaching centre took Sanskrit and English classes, while Maths was taught by Manjay Kumar and General studies by Shefali Kumari. People’s poets and singers Krishna Kumar Nirmohi and Raju Ranjan took music class. A general knowledge test was also held and winners were given pens and diaries as the prizes. The students took pledge to work and struggle to make their schools better. They reiterated to fight for their right to education and will not allow the powers that be to interfere with their rights and their future. They will uncompromisingly fight for their proper education to fulfil their dreams.
Anjali Kumari of Mehandora village said that there is no school in her village and this is the reason that her two little siblings are unable to acquire education. The parents from Milki tola village also complained of absence of a school in their village. The only school available is located two kilometres away which is impossible for the little kids to travel on a crowded road amidst heavy traffic. And they are just deprived of basic education for this reason only. Shabnam Parwin, a student from Chilhar village, shared sorry plight of her school where even toilets are not built for girls, hence they don’t drink water the whole day only to suppress their call of nature and suffer.
The school continued for 12 hours with anguished parents sharing their problems and fears with each other. This also resulted in a long traffic jam on the road which ultimately forced the administration to come to the spot for negotiations. At 8 in night officials of Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan, Block development officer, and other officials reached at the School, only to face bitter scolding by kids and their parents for remaining absent for the whole day in spite of prior requests and proper information. Eventually they listened to the problems and demands of parents, accepted their memorandum, and promised for the construction of new schools as per people’s needs.
The officials immediately cleared the NOC for Primary School in Milki tola, and for Scheduled Caste Primary School in Dedhua village. They also declared construction of a High School in Chilhar as well as the construction of the primary school in Mehandora within a month. With this the Sadak Par School was concluded.
Through this Sadak Par School other important issues besides lack of buildings and land, issues of appointment of teachers in all subjects, regularisation of teachers, etc were also raised.
In Bihar school dropout rate till high school is one of the highest at 59%, which is much higher among dalit (61%) and adivasi (80%) children. During the last few decades of the twentieth century poor and oppressed people fought valiant anti-feudal struggles for their dignity and rights in this region and now the same people are organising themselves for the right to education for their children, said Manoj Manzil after the school was over. He told that the School Movement is spreading fast among all sections of people irrespective of their political affiliations.
Mehandora village school building which the administration agreed to construct in this Sadak Par School, was actually sanctioned 14 years ago and, ironically, by now this was forgotten entirely by the officials. None of the earlier elected representatives ever bothered about a school for the marginalised. This was during a constituency visit by Manoj Manzil accompanied by CPIML senior Polit Bureau member Swadesh Bhattacharya and AIARLA leader Dasai Ram that they found the missing school and called for the concerned officials.
The issue of dilapidated or absent school buildings was raised by Manoj Manzil in the state Assembly and he also met with the concerned minister as well as officials at all levels. But continued inaction by the state government led to the organising of this Sadak Par School.
Later, on 18 May comrade Manoj Manzil also met the district Education Officer who agreed to improve basic facilities, provide land for the landless schools, and provide funds for the schools with inadequate or no buildings in rural areas of his constituency. Twenty three such schools were identified and marked for allocation of funds and construction and other maintenance works.