After years of neglect, the 391 schools that were set up in Bihar to fulfil Mahatma Gandhi's dream that one day all Indian children will have access to basic education are set to get a new lease of life.
State Human Resources Development Minister Hari Narain Singh told IANS in Patna on Thursday that the government has decided to spend Rs 50 crore to improve the infrastructure of the Buniyadi Vidyalayas (basic schools), about six of which were set up by the father of the nation himself.
The schools were set up 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.
The first Buniyadi Vidyalaya was established by the Mahatma in 1939 at Brindavan in Bihar's West Champaran district.
Singh said the government will spend Rs 50 lakh each on 100 basic schools during the current financial year as part of the first phase of the revival plan. In the next two financial years, the government would spend money on the other 291 schools.
"The government will not allow the dream schools of Mahatma Gandhi to die. All the basic schools will be revived in phased manner to provide opportunity to the younger generation to realise the dream of the father of the nation," said Singh.
Official sources said the basic schools or "Mahatma ke school" as they are popularly called in Bihar, are struggling for survival. They suffer from a shortage of teachers and funds. In many case, land meant for the Buniyadi Vidyalayas is in illegal possession of others.
Successive state governments have allowed the schools 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 notices 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 heritage.