Hill meet to work out free schooling

The Telegraph

Kalimpong, March 1: The Janmukti Secondary Teachers’ Organisation and heads of several institutions today held a closed-door meeting to work out the modalities for offering free education to 300 Adivasi students from the Dooars in hill schools.

The free schooling plan for Adivasis is part of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s campaign to woo the tribals in the plains.

The secretary of the teachers’ organisation, N.G. Chhetri, said 160 students had been selected in the first phase.

“For every five children admitted to schools in Darjeeling, an equal number will be enrolled in Kalimpong, four in Kurseong and one in Mirik,” said Chhetri. He said the organisation was yet to work out the figures in terms of fees and other expenses. “We will know our exact requirements as we move along. But we are confident of delivering on our commitment.”

Today’s meeting in Gorubathan was attended by heads of listed ICSE schools like Saptashri Gyanpeeth, Rockvale Academy, Gyanoday Niketan and Vrindavan School. However, representatives of some of the elite Anglo-Indian institutions that the hills are known for were absent.

The schools that had attended the meeting— Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri too was present — said they would study the proposal and then take a united stand.

While party president Bimal Gurung has taken the responsibility of students from Nursery to Class IV, the teachers’ organisation will fund the education of those in Class V and above.

“We will raise the money from our members to fund this particular scheme,” said Chhetri.

In Kalimpong, school fees can range from Rs 100 per month to Rs 1,000 for day scholars and Rs 500 to Rs 5,000 for boarders. “About 80 per cent of the selected students come from Madhyamik background. Their education in Madhyamik schools in the hills will not cost much. Only a handful of really bright students will be enrolled in the elite schools,” said Chhetri.

Students from Class V onwards will be admitted to the schools on March 5, the admission of junior students will take place on March 15.

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