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Ray of hope in insurgency-hit Karbi Anglong district of Assam
Assam’s Karbi Anglong district is one of the highly insurgency-hit districts in the state. Many believe that in spite of having all the potentialities, the district is lagging far behind.
Along with all others, the students too had a severe crisis with regular disruptions of their classes and the disturbances in the villages.
But times are changing. Thanks to Father VM Thomas who has travelled all the way from Kerala to provide a ray of hope for the students and their parents.
The Don Bosco Junior College, initiated by Father Thomas at Manja town, just a few kilometres from Diphu, now provides education to around 400 insurgency-hit students in arts, science and commerce with hostel facilities for both boys and girls.
Now, the local students can dream of better education. “We have many problems here. The area is lagging far behind for many reasons. Different organizations including the militant outfits call for bandhs which hampers the life of everyone including the students. But this institute has been a sigh of relief for many of the students like me,” Sayalin Ingtipi, a student of class XII told The News Mill.
Ingtipi who aspires to be an IAS officer said that there are hundred others like her who face the even worse situations. And it was continuing till 2014.
“There were problems as we didn’t have colleges in the nearby areas. Students either had to take admission at Diphu government college or to go out,” she added.
Father Thomas who studied educational administration, planning and social policy in Harvard University, started this junior college in 2014.
“Initially it was difficult to get land and other amenities. The area is also far interior. So, no one would want to be here. We actually wanted to focus more in Karbi Anglong. Finally we did it and started with 20 students. It was little discouraging but we had cent percent students passed the exam which was motivating,” Father Thomas told The News Mill.
Insurgency has a telling effect on education. Due to frequent disruption of classes by bandhs parents are loath to enroll the students within the district.
According state government records Karbi Anglong has the highest number of school dropouts and constant poor performers in class X and XII exams. For long, militant outfits recruited cadres from among the large number of school dropouts in the district.
“Many youth fall prey to the ideology of militants. The low-literacy rate of the district means a large number of foot-soldiers are available for recruitment as militants as they see no access to the employment,” said mother of a student.
Father Thomas said that they are also planning to set up several other facilities for the local students. “We are thinking of several other institutes like skill development centre and teachers training institute. But we need the government support to realize these dreams,” added Father Thomas.