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Arunachal: Students trek two hours daily to reach school on time amid harsh climate in Tawang dist.

ITANAGAR: Children living near Sangetsar lake popularly known as Madhuri lake (as koyla movie was shot in same location) continue climbing down slippery mud over bare rock races, carrying heavy school bags for hours to reach Government Residential School in Arunachal ‘s Taksang (T Gonpa) village near about 40 km from Indo China international border and 42 km from Tawang town. But these difficulties couldn’t stop the students from pursuing their dreams.

T Gonpa village is located in Zemithang Tehsil of Tawang district in Arunachal Pradesh. It is situated 44km away from sub-district headquarter New Zemithang and 42km away from district headquarter Tawang.

Interacting with InsideNE, four girl students namely Tsering Lhamu, Urgen Choton, Tsering Drema & Yai Tsomu informed that they start from their home at 6 am and reach their school by 8 am. This is their daily life starting from Monday to Saturday. They further added that they never skip school except Sunday when it’s an off day.

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic where schools and colleges are taking online classes, many students are facing major connectivity problems.

In this village near Sangetsar lake these children don’t possess a cell phone. There is also no internet connectivity at all. Since it is a very remote area, the positivity rate of COVID-19 is almost zero because of which the school is going on just like the normal days.

Despite all odds, they carry a smile on their face and their harsh journey to school doesn’t hinder their desire to learn. They also pack some meal from home and the school provides a mid-day meal every day as well. They said that they learn various subjects in their school and Hindi language is a major one.

Their communication outside of school is hindi and their local dialect.

On the other side after their school get over, they have to climb up these lengthy ranges to reach their home.

After whole day of school time and heavy trek down, these children become so weary. They stop any vehicles that cross that road. This doesn’t happen every day since the road is rocky and remote, plying of vehicles is near to zero.

When asked about the heavy bags, they replied that they read those books at night. From connectivity problem to electricity problem, heaven knows how they manage to light their homes and their education.

With the outbreak of the second wave of COVID-19, many states across the country opted to conduct classes as well as examinations online.

While the new process was a boon for many as they could appear for examination surrounded by the comfort of their home; for many like these students of interior Tawang district of Arunachal has proved to be a real struggle especially for the ones in the rural areas.

Internet connectivity and availability of smart phones and laptops is a major challenge for the students belonging to rural areas as well as poorer sections of the city.

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The ministry of education, on December 8 has announced the ‘Policy on School Bag 2020’ in line with the New Education Policy 2020. According to the policy, the total weight of a student’s school bag (for students from class 1 to 10) should not be more than 10 per cent of their body weight. The ministry has also recommended that schools monitor the weight of the bags on regular basis while this was never implemented in the remote villages along himalayan border states where students carry bags weighing half of their body weight & climb mountains to reach their schools on time.

Child counsellors, psychologists and educationists have often highlighted that heavy bags have negative consequences for the health and well-being of students. The NCERT through several surveys and studies, found that carrying heavy bags was bad for students’ health and resulted in stunted growth, especially for those in pre-primary and primary classes.

Mla Tsering Tashi of Tawang admitted the lack of connectivity issues in Tawang district but since four years road communication is been improving as the BRO is continuously working on it.

Regarding electricity Tashi informed that due to landslide one hydel which provides electricity to Tawang got damaged due to leakage resulting in crisis. However, the government is trying to use mini hydels to restore electricity until the main hydel is been repaired. Transmission lines as approved by Government of India will also reach Tawang as survey work has been completed.

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