Rarely does something good come out of a clash between communities. But in Kheria village here, a battle of one-upmanship between Scheduled Castes and Other Backward Classes has resulted in the creation of two schools. And the children are reaping the benefits.
The government had sanctioned a grant for a school in the village and a site in an SC-dominated area was chosen. But some influential members of the OBC community managed to convince a few employees in the education department and got the building constructed at a site of their choice. “This hurt us. So, we set up our own school with our own money and gave it the same name as the government school,” said Puttilal, a member of the SC community.
The school set up by the SCs is called Prathmik Vidyalaya Kheria I while the one set up by the government is called Kheria II.
Raj Kumar, another SC villager, recalled: “We decided to teach the OBCs a lesson and stopped sending our kids to the government school. Since we make up 80 per cent of the population while the OBCs are 15 per cent, the strength of the government school was reduced to 10.”
With just a handful of students at the government building, its headmaster and teachers also moved to the private school. “There was no option,” a teacher said.
Soon, the government school was reduced to a cowshed and even the OBCs were forced to send
their children to the other school. The private school now has 93 students, including 54 girls.
The education department has no objection to its employees taking classes in the private school as it understands this arrangement is better than wasting time. In fact, it is officially footing the school’s mid-day meal bills and releasing teachers’ salaries on time. “We are distributing mid-day meals and the quality of food is extremely good. The local residents are managing it very well,” said Rakesh Kumar, Basic Shiksha Adhikari.
The department plans to turn the government building into a junior high school. The villagers are open to the idea. “We have no complaints. We’d be happy to see our children, SC or OBC, get quality education. We have nothing against the OBCs,” Puttilal said.