Darjeeling: Teaching and non-teaching staff of private schools of Kurseong took out a rally on Saturday demanding that education be treated as an emergency service and kept outside the purview of bandhs.
Incidentally, it has been nearly three months that schools are shut in the Hills owing to the indefinite bandh clamped by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM). Students from all over the country and the continent study in the Hill schools. However, with the Hills in the grip of a political unrest, a major dent in the image of the Hills as an education hub has been caused.
The past three months have been trying for the school authorities as well as the parents and guardians of the students. For the teachers, the main cause of concern has been completion of syllabus for the Class X and XII board examinations along with completion of formalities like online registrations. With the clampdown on the Internet services in the Hills, online registration has not been possible.
Many parents and guardians have been contemplating withdrawing their children and sending them to schools elsewhere. Many of the boarding schools had even arranged for classes in the plains of Siliguri for the boarders while day scholars attended tuition classes organised by the schools in fancy dresses outside the school campus.
On Saturday, a silent rally was taken out in Kurseong town by teaching and non-teaching staff of Kurseong schools. The rally carrying a banner "Gorkhaland is our Constitutional right; Education is our fundamental right" commenced from the Kurseong tourist lodge and culminated at the motor stand. Chetan Tiwari, Director of St. Anthony's School, Kurseong stated: "Education like emergency services should be kept outside the purview of the bandh. We all support the
Gorkhaland demand but education is equally important. It has been three months that schools are shut in the Hills. The future of students is at stake." In Darjeeling, the district administration using the public address system appealed to all the schools to commence from Monday.