November 4, 2020.
TED NewsDesk, Dispur: The government of Assam has started the construction of 119 high schools in tea gardens, in areas having only primary and middle schools. The Tea Tribes comprise 17% of the state’s population. “In more than 70 years after Independence, it is for the first time that high schools will be established in the tea gardens of Assam. It marks a new beginning for the development of education and culture in the tea gardens of Assam,” said Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma during a rally in Dhekiajuli on Monday.
Schools across Assam reopened on Monday after being shut for over seven months. On Sunday, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal laid the foundation stone for the new schools. A statement released by his office said, “Tea community is an integral part of greater Assamese society. The community, which has embraced Assam and Assamese as their own and assimilated into Assamese society, must be enabled to reap benefits of equal development.” According to officials, Rs 1.20 crore would be spent on constructing each model high school. The Tea Tribes form an integral voter base in the state as well, and the BJP-led government’s push for schools comes ahead of state elections scheduled for early 2021.
GS Barhoi, Golaghat District Secretary of Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha, welcomed the move. “It will help shift the focus… towards the need of education for an economically backward community,” Barhoi said. However, he said, workers’ problems with minimum wages continue. “Currently, wages are Rs 167 per day. How can a worker sustain with that? So when a boy in the family reaches a certain age, the family wants him to earn rather than study.”
Ahead of the upcoming Assam elections, the much welcome initiative can greatly benefit the Tea Tribes, which form a major chunk of the populace. What time shall tell is if will receive the right kind of attention by the state government once construction draws to completion and if the underprivileged community will be able to access high school education.
Source: The Indian Express