Imphal, July 5:
The state government’s initiative to resume education for students from classes 1 to 8 faced a setback as parents and students expressed apprehension, resulting in a significant drop in attendance on the first day. Many schools in Imphal reported alarmingly low turnout as parents refrained from sending their children to school due to the persisting violence in the region.
The prevailing state of unrest has instilled fear among parents, discouraging them from exposing their children to potential dangers. While teachers are compelled to comply with the orders from the education department and reopen schools, they share concerns about the absence of normalcy in the state. They fear that any outbreak of violence could lead to road blockades, causing severe disruption to the education process and posing risks to the safety of students.
A teacher, preferring anonymity, lamented the unfavorable conditions under which schools are operating, stating, “We have no choice but to open schools as per the government’s order. However, we are concerned about the absence of normalcy in the state. If any violent incident occurs, it could trigger road blockades, creating significant problems for teachers and, more importantly, for the students.”
Highlighting the gravity of the situation, the teacher further emphasized, “It is not an ideal time to commence education for students. We have witnessed extremely low attendance, which I believe is a direct result of parents’ concerns. Many students have lost their homes and are currently surviving in various relief camps. They are traumatized by the destruction they have witnessed at such a tender age. Under these circumstances, how can we expect them to attend school? The government must prioritize creating a conducive educational environment before initiating classes.”
Teachers and school management are also urging the government to devise a comprehensive plan to ensure a higher turnout of students, thereby facilitating an expedited learning process.
Ashangbam Chandra, the headmaster of Brighter Academy in Khumbong, expressed his earnest appeal to the government, stating, “Less than 10 percent of students attended today, making it impossible to conduct classes effectively. We need a well-designed plan from the government to ensure an adequate number of students attend school.”
Concerns regarding the safety of students on the roads further compound parents’ apprehension. They fear that road blockades may arise at any moment in response to incidents occurring in different parts of Manipur.
Thouba, whose child studies at Don Bosco School in Langjing, expressed her reservations, saying, “Given the current violence situation, it is not the right time to send children to school, despite the government’s assurances. Just yesterday, roads were blocked in Thoubal without warning. If any violence erupts in Phayeng or Kangchup areas, road blockades are inevitable. Moreover, I worry about my child’s safety.”
School van operators, responsible for transporting students, share similar concerns regarding the safety of the children and the condition of the routes.
Joykumar Koijam, a school van driver, revealed, “When I contacted parents in the morning, they expressed reluctance to send their kids to school due to the prevailing situation. Consequently, I refrained from transporting the students today. I understand their decision. Moreover, some areas have partial road blockades, and anything can happen at any time. It seems that the violence shows no signs of abating.”
While the government’s endeavor to provide education to young children in Manipur holds great importance, considering the prolonged confinement they have experienced during the past two months of violence, current circumstances have impeded its progress. The impact of the two-month-long violence has deeply affected parents’ confidence in sending their children to school, primarily due to concerns for their safety. Therefore, the government must take decisive steps to restore normalcy and create a secure environment conducive to education.