An Elusive Paper: Students in Madhupur Cheated Out of Stipend

Madhupur Village, Deogarh District, Jharkhand. IndiaUnheard Community Correspondent, Mukesh Rajak brings us another video exposing a scam in Jharkhand’s education system. Preeti Kumari is an enthusiastic student. Like many other parents in Madhupur, her parents earn barely enough to send her to school but they do. The government of Jharkhand offers a stipend each month to students who belong to Schedule Caste, Schedule Tribe and Other Backward Classes so that they can continue their education. For students like Preeti this small sum is essential to buy books. Mukesh found that for two years, 2009-10 and 2010-11, many students at the Mahua Dabar Secondary School have been cheated out of this stipend. The students have signed on registers both years as evidence of payment but most of these signatures were either forged or forced. For the past year, Mukesh has been on the hunt for an elusive piece of paper. The document holds the signatures of a 150 students who supposedly received this stipend. Mukesh has visited everyone, from the Block Education Officer to the Subdivisional Officer to find this paper. They have been more supportive than the principal of the school, who despite ultimatums has not delivered on his promise to give an accurate list of students who were paid the stipend in 2009. In 2010, Mukesh found that the episode had repeated itself. Many of the students have gone on record to say that they were forced to sign the document stating that they have received the stipend. In the course of the year, some have backtracked because teachers and the principal have scared them off. Those who haven’t, stand before you in this video and speak out against the corruption they have faced and the problems they go through because of that. This is not the first video Mukesh has produced on corruption in the education system. It is an issue that he identifies with on a personal level. During one of our initial conversations regarding this issue, one could hear his anger leap through the phone. “I have had to face similar discrimination throughout because I am a Dalit. When I was in school I have had to pay bribes; it is not easy when your family can barely make a living to begin with. These students are facing a similar problem today because of a few teachers who take advantage of their post. A lot of them have been silenced because of fear, it upsets me but I understand. I will still stand by them and expose what is going on in the school and ensure that they get what is rightfully theirs,” he says.

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