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Primary school reopens/ 2019
July 26, 2019: The Times of India
Blown up by Reds, school reopens 14 yrs on
A primary school in the restive Bijapur district of Bastar has come to life again, 14 years after Maoists destroyed it during the Salwa Judum movement.
Thanks to villagers’ initiatives and the administration’s support, it was reopened in Padmoor village on Wednesday with 52 children on the rolls. Despite Maoists prowling the region, villagers dared to build the school just 50 metres from a pillar erected in memory of a slain cadre. It’s little more than a thatched hut, but it means the world to them.
The children of Padmoor had to travel to far-off residential schools or walk 8km every day. On Thursday, the 52 students sat down to a piping hot midday meal. There were smiles all around — none bigger than teacher Shivcharan Pandey’s.
He says he was moved to tears when he was appointed teacher of Padmoor Primary School. He was the last teacher here when Maoists blew up the building in 2005-06 during the Salwa Judum movement, and forced the entire village to vacate. Only rubble remained of the school that was established in 1964. The villagers took refuge in neighbouring hamlets and dared to return only in 2012.
Once they came back to Padmoor, they contacted the education department and pleaded that the school be rebuilt. Kids younger than 10-11 years had to walk at least 8km and cross a river to reach the nearest school in Cherlapal. It got very risky in monsoon.
According to zilla panchayat CEO Rahul Kumar, locals suggested that they begin with a temporary setup. The administration agreed. The villagers were so excited that they set it up in a couple of days and decorated it with balloons for the inauguration.
Kumar said the administration arranged books, stationery, mats and other things. Officials crossed Koter river by boat and walked to Padmoor with all the stuff.
Village head Gonde Somu and Gangaloor sarpanch Mangal Rana cut the ribbon as the villagers cheered. The children were welcomed with tilak and a gift of books, stationery, uniforms and a sports kit.
Pandey said many more children are expected to join. Kumar said midday meals were served to the kids from the first day and two staff members will cook and serve meals. “This initiative sends out a positive message to villages that have suffered the same tragedy. The locals who are illiterate realised the value of education, which resulted in reopening of this school,” said block education officer Mohd Zakir Khan.