Pradeep Pattanayak

At a time when the government is making tall claims on the success of its 5T initiative in bringing changes in education system in Odisha, Class X students of a school under 5T School Transformation programme working as labourers, is telling an altogether different story. 

Some construction work is underway in PaikaTigiria High School in Khordha district. On Tuesday, Class X students were spotted working as labourers inside the school campus. A teacher was also seen supervising the work. 

The students alleged the teachers were forcing them to work by threatening to expel them from the school. 

“The teacher asked us which job we can do better. I said I can't do any work. But he (teacher) asked me and my friend to dig foundation and remove earth,” alleged Abhijit Jena, a student. 

“Niranjan Sir and Nila, the peon of our school, asked me to water the newly constructed boundary wall and remove stones. I did as I was asked. They said they would give us TC and wouldn’t allow us to play if we disobey them,” alleged Nitish Kumar Behera, another student. 

When the incident came to the fore, the parents and villagers took strong exception to it. 

“Students are going to school to study, not to work as labourers. They are going to school to become reputed persons in the society, not to become labourers,” rued Ashok Sahu, a parent. 

Investigation reveals, some developmental works are underway at Paika Tigiria High School in Khordha district, which is under 5T. To execute these works, an amount of Rs 45 lakh has also been sanctioned. The parents are yet to understand why the school authorities engaged the students in the construction work. 

When asked, the headmaster of the school clarified they (students) would stop engaging them in construction work.

“We hadn’t engaged the students. They (students) are speaking against me because I had scolded them a few days back,” clarified Niranjan Sahu, a teacher of Paika Tigiria High School. 

“Construction work is going on. Some students might have done something on their own out of interest.  We will make sure no student should be engaged in any kind of work in future,” said Maheswar Mohanty, headmaster of Paika Tigiria High School.

(Reported by Balaram Lenka, OTV)