Pithoragarh: Over 50 children of the lone primitive tribe in Uttarakhand are being deprived of primary education as a residential school, opened for them by the state government with central assistance, has been closed for want of funds.
The children belong to the Ban Rawat community, also known as Ban Rajis, whose numbers are dwindling fast in the state.
The residential school, opened for them in Jauljibi village near the Indo-Nepal border of the district, has been closed following withdrawal by the NGO that ran it citing non-sanction of funds on time.
"The children from poor Ban Raji families in Kilmkhola, Ganagaon, Chiphaltara and seven other villages near Jauljibi are without primary education this session as the school does not have teachers and food.
"No one is managing its affairs after the NGO assigned to the task left in March this year," said Lila Bangyal, a social worker based at Jauljibi.
Bangyal today came here with a delegation, including guardians of the tribal children, to draw the attention of the district magistrate to the issue.
"The demonstrators demanded that the school be run fully by the social welfare department of the state. The shy children of the tribe find it diificult to mix with children from other communities in other schools," said Bangyal.
According to Pithoragarh District Magistrate C Ravishankar, the administration has sent a proposal to the state government asking for funds for the salaries and other expenditure of the teachers and staff. "We hope the funds will reach us soon," the DM said.
According to district social welfare officer P B Singh, the need for opening a separate residential primary school for the children of the tribe arose from their shy disposition which prevented them from mixing with other children and resulted in their withdrawal from schools.
The resedential school was opened in 2001 and was handed over to an NGO — Seemant Janjati Vikas Sansthan — run by former MLA Hira Singh Bora. After Bora died in 2013 his successors refused to run the school, complaining of non- availability of timely assistance from the Centre and the state.
"We are not in a position to run the school as we do not have enough funds to run it," said Bhupesh Bora, son of the late MLA and director of the NGO.