TIKAPUR, July 5: There is a large settlement adjoining the Banjariya forest to the west of the Kanda River. A total of 500 households live in the Mukta Kamaiya (free bonded laborer) camp of Ramnagar and around 300 households in Banjariya and Bhagaiya villages. These all settlements fall under Joshipur-3.
Despite having dense population, the children of these villages do not have proper schools and colleges for higher education. There is a primary school in the Mukta Kamaiya community which runs classes up to the fifth grade. However, after the fifth grade, students are compelled to go to the nearby Janajagiriti Basic School which runs classes up to the eighth grade.
Around 500 children from these villages are compelled to go to the schools in Joshipur, Bauniya and Muddhi by crossing the perilous Kanda River. Crossing the river becomes a challenge for the students especially in monsoon. There is one boat and only nine students can cross the river at a time. It takes more than four hours for the students to get across the river.
After spending such a long time to cross the river, students will again have to walk a long distance to reach their schools. "The children here have no other option for higher education," said local Dharmendra Bista. Crossing the river in a boat is not only difficult but also risky.According to the locals, in the past many students fell in the river as the boat often flipped. Some have even lost their lives in such incidents. So, the students are more scared of the river than their studies. Prakash Chaudhary, a ninth grader at Mohanyal Secondary School of Joshipur says he can't stop fearing for his life every time he is on the boat.
"I keep worrying until I cross the river," said Chaudhary, adding, "Not just me but all of my friends have that fear." After being unable to take risks, many students leave their studies halfway. Kaliram Chaudhary, Principal of Janajagriti Secondary School of Banjariya admits that many of his students dropped out of school due to the risk of crossing the river. He says, even parents don't have problem with their children quitting their studies at young age.
"Parents don't want their children to risk their lives for their studies. This is why most students stop coming to the school after the eighth grade," said Principal Chaudhary. Locals say their children would not have to go to far-flung villages by risking their lives if they had schools in their locality.
Not only the students but also all villagers have to cross the river to reach Joshipur Bazaar to buy goods, meet their relatives, and collect fodder and for other works. Local Ramsewak Chaudahary says this boat has been their fate for years. However, the government has offered a respite to the locals here by starting the construction of a concrete bridge over the river. Ward chief Kishor Kathariya said, "The bridge is currently under-construction. We hope that the locals will not have to rely on the boat from next year."