Govt school in Yelbong closes amid teacher absence
The Sishu Siksha Kendra that was established in 2002 at Yelbong forest village in Kalimpong district has stopped functioning due to lack of teachers since the past six months.
Om Prakash Chhetri of Pembling had been appointed to teach at Yelbong SSK, but he has never attended a single class as he says it is not possible to travel to the remote village from his home. He appointed some local voluntary teachers in his place on a verbal agreement of paying them Rs 1,500 as remuneration. Five such volunteers worked at the school but they all quit as they did not receive the money promised by Chhetri.
Locals said the last such temporary teacher at the school was Marina Lepcha, who is presently undergoing treatment in Kalimpong hospital.
A local named Deo Kumar Tamang said, "Om Prakash hardly came to the school and due to the irregularity of teachers, student numbers have reduced from 50 to five. The school has remained closed since the last six months and the students are in a dilemma on whether to join another school or wait for teachers."
The mid-day meal scheme has stopped and the school helper has been asked to distribute rice grains among those students who came to class.
Jange Sarki, a social worker, said the school was constructed by Christian missionaries Seva Kendra, the toilet by the NHPC while the kitchen was built with government aid. He said Om Prakash first appointed Gabriel Tamang who worked for six months, followed by Anand Pradhan, Ramu Lepcha, Anu Tamang and Chunu Tirwa and Marina Lepcha.
Laxmi Tamang, the cook, said, "I was instructed by Om Prakash to distribute 100 grams of rice grains daily. I never received the full salary of Rs 1,500. I have received just Rs 3,000 for eight months."
When confronted, Om Prakash said, "I am a poor man and the salary given by the government is not enough for me to work in the village which is very far from my residence. I will resolve everything in a day or two and join duty."
He said he receives Rs 5,400 per month as salary.