Patna: There is new
hope for an important but forgotten part of Gandhian heritage.
After decades of neglect, the 391 Buniyadi Vidyalayas (basic
schools) that were set up in Bihar to fulfil Mahatma Gandhi's
dream of providing elementary education to every Indian child are
set to be revived.
The first Buniyadi Vidyalaya was established by the Mahatma
himself in 1939 at Brindavan in Bihar's West Champaran district.
But, since then, the "Mahatma ke school", as they are popularly
known in the state, have been struggling for survival. Major
problems include shortage of funds and teachers.
In many cases, land meant for the schools are in illegal
possession of others.
But all that may change soon.
An official in Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's office told IANS that
Kumar has asked the officials concerned to come up with concrete
plans to revive these schools within a year.
Last week, at an official function, Nitish Kumar had said he was
shocked to know that out of the 391 Buniyadi Vidyalayas in the
state, hardly any was functional.
"I am sorry for it, but I will not tolerate their neglect," he
He admitted that he had been advocating the idea to revive basic
schools for the past six years, but it had failed to create any
impact till date.
According to officials, Nitish Kumar has formed a committee
consisting of three senior Indian Administrative Service (IAS)
officials -- the human resource development department's Principal
Secretary Anjani Kumar Singh and principal secretaries in the
health and disaster management departments Amarjit Sinha and
Vyasji, who would work on the revival plan.
State Human Resources Development Minister P.K. Sahi told IANS
here that his department is working on resurrecting the schools.
"Now, we will do it as per the chief minister's directives," he
Sahi said the government has decided to improve the infrastructure
of the Buniyadi Vidyalayas, about six of which were set up by the
father of the nation himself.
The schools were started to impart basic education to boys and
girls in rural areas. They were also meant to provide vocational
training in spinning, carpentry, farming and weaving.
But successive state governments have allowed the institution to
languish. Even the central government has not made any attempt to
breathe life into them.
A few years ago, the Supreme Court took serious note of the plight
of the basic schools in West Champaran district.
The court had then issued notice to the centre, the state
government, the district administration of West Champaran and the
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to ensure proper
functioning of the schools and preservation of the Gandhian
(Imran Khan can
be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)