A view of Washelo village in Meluri sub division under Phek district.
In Washelo village, structural changes in govt schools pose a challenge for many children in their pursuit of education
Washelo/Meluri | February 9
Overlooking the Shilloi Lake is a scenic hamlet surrounded by beautiful mineral rich mountains, which feed the rumbling brook and crystal springs, providing clear and pure water. The name of the village – Washelo – named after wild garlic, is located in the border regions of Nagaland state.
For the 31 households of Washelo, with a population of 169, the Fundamental Right of their children to free and compulsory education has not been realised. People here are faced with a struggle to cope with the modifications being made to education policies in Nagaland state.
Washelo Government Primary School was established a few decades back with classes running from nursery up to the 5th standard till 2014. The school had 43 students in 2014 and is manned by three government employed teachers and two privately employed teachers. The village council and the state Land Resources Department (LRD) also help in the running of the school. It was adopted by LRD under its Special Program for Environment and Economic Development (SPEED) due to shortage of teachers. The school acts as the sole platform for children from this remote part of the state to acquire an education and prepare for their future.
Four students passed out of their 4th standard in 2014 and seven others are in their 4th standard this year. Their future remains in the balance with the Nagaland state government and the school education department delinking the 5th standard from Government Primary Schools across the state. The government’s plan is to incorporate 5th standard classes in Government Middle Schools. This poses a problem for a remote village like Washelo, with the nearest Government Middle School being 12 kilometers away.
Narrating her dream Magdallen, a student from GPS Washelo says that she aspires to become a teacher so that she can come back and teach her friends. Upset at the modification to the education system, she adds, “When I am in the village, after school I go to field and help my parents and also take care of the house hold activities. But now I don’t know what will happen to all of us.”
Tethsolen, a parent of one student who passed her 5th standard stated, “Though I don’t have much money I sold some of the field products and sent my daughter to Meluri town which is 85 kilometer to seek admission in 6th standard. But she could not be accommodated in any school so she is coming back. And we don’t know what we will do even if she comes back.” She however remains strong in her resolve to provide her daughter with an education.
Education is a fundamental right, protected by law and the state is beholden to its obligation for the education of children. This story of Washelo’s children is a reminder that policy decisions need to be taken with consideration of all people, from all corners of Nagaland state.