Gandhi's tribal schools dying: Study
By Kapil Dave
Ashram Shalas, residential schools for tribals in rural areas promoted by Mahatma Gandhi to spread education and spirit of freedom in the rural and tribal areas of the state, now seem to be low on the government’s priority.
A key study by the state government’s own Directorate of Evaluation, an independent body for the evaluation of the state’s schemes and projects that runs under the general administration department headed by the Chief Minister Narendra Modi, has found that Ashram Shalas run by the state’s Tribal Development Department are facing serious neglect.
In its recently published “Evaluation study of the Ashram Shala scheme for scheduled tribe students”, the state body noted that the government spent only Rs 600 per month per student on their food, clothes, stationery, etc. It is “... very low considering present price hikes,” the report noted.
It also states that although Ashram Shalas have no commercial interests, the Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam (GUVNL) gives them a power bill on commercial rates, which ultimately affects the children because it leaves little money for other activities.
The technical guidance given by the state’s Education Department to other educational institutions is also missing in the case of these Ashram Shalas, the study says.
The directorate also found that 82 per cent of the schools evaluated did not have Gruhpati or Gruhmata (rectors).
Around 92 per cent of these schools did not have a security guard and 76 per cent did not have peons.
The report noted that although children needed a watchman for security, there was no provision for the same in the present set-up .
It was observed in the study that only 76.8 per cent of students of primary, Uttar Buniyad (secondary) and Uchhatar Buniyadi (higher secondary) schools have uniforms.
The state agency has also found serious loopholes in the administration of these Ashram Shalas in the state and made several important recommendations for attaining the noble objectives set out for the scheme.
The state Tribal Development Department runs Ashram Shalas in 14 tribal districts of Gujarat to prevent drop-outs among the tribal children.
At present, there are 452 primary Ashram Shalas, 87 Uttar Buniyadi schools (secondary) and 10 Uchhatar Buniyadi (higher secondary) Ashram Shalas in Gujarat. In all, 549 Ashram Shalas have 69,995 students at present.
Ashram Shalas were started in Gujarat with a Rashtriya Shala in 1920.
They soon started promoting Nai Talim initiated by the Mahatma Gandhi along with Gujarat Vidyapith and other educational institutions with an aim of spreading educational in rural and tribal areas.
After the Independence, the concept of Ashram Shalas was promoted so that students from remote hilly and tribal areas also got better education.
The Ashram Shalas do not have extra co-curricula activities like sports, youth festivals, science fairs etc., and there is no coordination between district panchyat office and education officer.
Teachers of the Ashram Shalas don’t get benefits like provident fund and pension, the study said.
In his own state Gandhi is forgotten legacy...pathetic...we must raise voice against this neglect