Medieval Standards for Tribal Boarding School

Students in a tribal hostel in Chhattisgarh are living in terrible conditions.

Bhan Sahu’s landlord in Ambagadh Chowki introduced her as a community journalist to one of his relatives who was visiting. The visitor was a headmaster of a school in Jadutola and was curious about her work. When he heard that Bhan Sahu made videos on issues in the community, he suggested that she go and investigate the conditions of this tribal students’ hostel in Jadutola.

Although there are a few such hostels which have been around for a long time, the Chhattisgarh state government officially launched the ‘Hostel Scheme’ in December last year, in order to promote literacy amongst tribal children. Around 110 hostels were set up in Mahasamund, where more than 5,000 students are enrolled. As part of this scheme, tribal children are meant to be given board and food, books, uniforms, shoes and socks and a monthly stipend of Rs.450.

However, as Bhan Sahu shows in her video, what was promised and planned is evidently different from what is happening. The boys in this hostel in Jadutola are going without proper food and sanitation, and have not been able to voice their concerns because the guardians are very strict and promise to punish them if they say anything against the management.

“It is bad here, but I guess it is better than them staying home. At least here they are going to class. At home they would be working in the fields or hunting food for their families. Or just loitering around. At least here they can concentrate on their studies because they are all together.”

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