When 100-odd teachers travel nearly 8-hour to reach school

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Travelling four to eight hours in cabs and buses to reach their respective schools in Bargur hills and returning home in the evening is an arduous task for 100-odd teachers in the district who are undeterred by the challenges they face everyday.

As many as 28 government schools and tribal welfare schools, including one higher secondary school, four high school, 12 middle school and 11 elementary schools, function at Osur, Thamaraikarai, Devarmalai, Kongadai and at Bargur in which over 120 teachers are there. While 55 teachers travel in cabs, 30 teachers travel to Madam village in the TNSTC bus and a few others travel in two-wheelers to reach their schools.

Most of the teachers were travelling from plains, from Erode, Sathyamangalam, Anthiyur and other areas to the schools every day. “Since buses are not available to reach the schools on time, we have arranged cab services that transport 55 of us in six cabs everyday from Anthiyur to our schools”, said a teacher speaking on anonymity. She said that on an average each teacher has to bear anywhere between ₹ 3,200 to ₹ 4,500 a month for the service that also depends on the distance. The teacher, from a remote village in Modakurichi block, has to travel 14 km. to reach Erode bus stand to catch a bus to Anthiyur and board the cab service everyday. “I start at 6 a.m. from home so that I can reach the school at least by 9.30 a.m. and return home by 8 p.m.”, she added.

Officials at the Educational Department said that most of the teachers in Bargur hills were from plains and based on rotation system, except for teachers at tribal welfare schools, they have to serve at least one year in the schools located in the hills. “It is a dangerous task to pass through forest areas to reach schools located in the border areas. In the absence of buses and accommodation facilities in the schools or villages, we have to travel everyday”, said another teacher from Erode.

S.C. Natraj, Director of Service Unit for Development Activities in Rural (SUDAR), an NGO, said that people of Lingayat community speak Kannada while tribal people in the hills speak Urali. “It is necessary that local teachers who can understand the language, who works with dedication and serves the students for a long term are needed for the upliftment of the students”, he added.

People in Kongadai tribal village said that inadequate teachers to handle classes are a major concern that can be solved only by training the locally available talents. “The government should provide accommodation for teachers, special hill allowance and incentives so as to encourage teachers to serve at schools in the hills”, said a villager Sithalingan.

Mr. Natraj said that tribal students should be encouraged to complete their graduation and teacher training. They should be exempted from teachers’ eligibility test also. He also called for bringing all schools in the hill areas under one department so that appointment of teachers and administering the schools is easy.

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