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No funds, Arunachal’s Eklavya school’s first batch may be its last | The Indian Express

Related. The first batch of students of the Eklavya Model Residential School (EMRS) at Bana, a remote township close to the China border in East Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh, will be sitting for the Class X board exams this March. It may also be the school’s last batch. The school was one of 100 such schools set up across the country by the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs under Article 275(1) during the ninth five-year plan. It began its academic session in August 2009 with 54 students in Class VI, selected from various districts of Arunachal Pradesh based on a competitive examination. While they were all promoted to the next class the following year, the authorities could not admit new students in Class VI because no new teachers were appointed. The reason: lack of funds. According to the EMRS guidelines, the expenses for infrastructure and stipend —amounting to Rs 43,000 per annum — are to be borne by the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs, while the state government is required to take care of the salaries of the teachers and non-teaching staff. The school only has five teachers and six non-teaching staff. “An agreement signed by the state government in May 2009 had entrusted Vivekananda Kendra with the task of managing the school. We have continued to serve because we cannot deprive the children of their education,” said V Omanakuttan, principal of the school. The Vivekananda Kendra has been paying the staff a nominal sum as salary. “You cannot call it a salary. It is more like a remuneration for voluntary work. The rules say the state government has to meet our salary expenses, which also includes other allowances,” said Omanakuttan. “It is very sad… I have gone from pillar to post in the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs to get the sanctioned Rs 16 crore for establishment of the school. But only Rs 7.5 crore has been released so far. Moreover, the state government forgot to meet the salary expenses of the staff,” said local MLA Tani Laffa. The plight of the school only came into focus during Chief Minister Nabam Tuki’s recent visit to Bana, over 370 kilometres from Itanagar. Tuki ordered creation of a corpus fund for payment of salaries. Meanwhile, the other Eklavya School, at Lumla in Tawang, is yet to take off.
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