After a 16-year-long wait, the schools of a Naxal-dominated area in the Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh have reopened with enormous efforts made by the district administration to ensure the kids get the right to education.
"The Maoists have destroyed many schools in the last 15-16 years. 116 schools will be thrown open this year, which will benefit over 2,800 children. Kids from Pedda Jojer, Chinna Jojer, and Kamkanar villages of Bijapur block can get access to education now," Ritesh Agarwal, District Collector of Bijapur, told ANI.
During the construction of roads, the district administration faced stiff opposition from the Naxals and many security personnel were reportedly killed during this period.
According to Zakir Khan, Block Education Officer (BEO), the most difficult part in the process was to strike a communication with the villagers. This was done by engaging the students with the aim to create a strong network that would help them understand the importance of education. Due to the efforts, as many as 900 students have been enrolled in at least 14 schools in the block.
Teachers Fighting All Odds
"We only knew the Gondi language earlier, but we can speak Hindi now. Teachers have not missed a single class yet, they come every day. The school administration is providing us with books and school dress," Neha, a student told ANI, adding that they had to cross a river every day to make it to school, ensuring no one misses out on education.
According to reports, the Naxalites have been targeting school buildings for a decade now. The affected areas included Bijapur, Dantewada, Sukma, and Narayanpur, reported India Today.
More than 300 schools were destroyed in the conflict that followed during these years.
Residents Receive Electricity
On August 10, the Naxal-dominated Tarrem village of Bijapur received electricity, after 30 years of struggle. Besides, it now has a primary health center (PHC), a school, and roads among other basic amenities.
Residing 500 kilometres away from the capital city Raipur, residents of Tarrem village were deprived of basic civic facilities as the region became a victim of Naxal violence after 1980. It has now primary healthcare, Anganwadi centres, a ration shop and roads.
Because of the violence, many villagers had to leave their houses and shift to another location searching for peace.