Updated: January 5, 2022 7:32:03 pm
Authorities in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh are inquiring into allegations that a government-run school turned away students due to their caste.
The Mandal Parishad Primary School at Brahmapuri recently opened after renovations with a government grant of Rs 10 lakh for upgrade of facilities such as drinking water and separate toilets for girls and boys. The school had 52 students until last year. Parents of 26 of them, who live just a kilometre away in Molapalem village of Gangavaram Mandal , alleged that when their children returned to school, they were sent back.
All the 26 students belong to Scheduled Castes (SC), Backward Classes (BC) and Other Backward Classes (OBC) groups.
“They are saying when there is a school in Molapalem, why do we want to take admission in their school (at Brahmapuri). They are doing this because we belong to other castes, while forward caste students go to that school,” alleged K Ishwar, a parent.
District Education Officer (DEO) S Abraham, however, denied the allegations of caste discrimination and accused local politicians in both the villages of “spreading misinformation and instigating villagers against each other”.
“The school at Molapalem was closed in 2016 as it had less than 10 students at that time and was merged with the school at Brahmapuri. Since the number of students in Molapalem increased to 26, Molapalem villagers demanded the school be reopened,” the DEO said.
The DEO said the school at Molapalem was reopened this year and students from the village had a choice to study there or at Brahmapuri. The students of Molapalem, however, chose to go to the school in their own village, he added. “If they wish they can go to the school at Brahmapuri,” he said, adding education department officials were still conducting an inquiry.
Mandal Education Officer K Nagaraj, who is conducting the inquiry, said the 26 students were sent back to the school at Molpalem “not on the basis of caste but as per area, as they hail from Molapalem”. “The remaining 26 students hail from Brahmapuri and belong to two forward castes. That is why the accusations of caste-based discrimination. This is completely false,” Nagaraj said.
On Wednesday, Nagaraj held a meeting with the parents from Molapalem and, as suggested by District Collector C Hari Kiran, sought a letter from them specifying in which school they wanted their children to study. The Molapalem villagers, however, refused to give any such letter. They stuck to their stand that the students were divided based on caste and instead demanded instead that the Brahmapuri school be closed and all the students transferred to Molapalem school.
The parents also demanded the sarpanch, who has gone into hiding, present himself before them.
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