From 3 students in 2021 to 26: Chekodi school in Wayanad forest fosters tribal kids

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Ward-level committee members visiting households to ensure enrollment of tribal students | Photo: Special Arrangement

Thirunelli: Overcoming their initial hesitation, tribal students flock to Chekadi school in Wayanad in large numbers. The welcoming atmosphere and quality education provided by public schools have played a crucial role in keeping these children engaged in their studies. At the Government LP School, Chekadi, located in a forest village, more than ninety per cent of the students belong to tribal communities.

In the academic year 2021-'22, only three children sought admission to class I at the school. This number increased to 17 in the last academic year and has now risen to 26 this year. The Parents and Teachers Association (PTA) is optimistic that the number of students will continue to grow until the sixth working day (when the official count is taken). According to head teacher PV Jayakumar, the ward-level committee and other school-level committees have played a significant role in facilitating the increased number of admissions.

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Currently, sixteen children are studying in classes two and three, and six students are in the fourth grade at Chekadi school, which offers classes I to IV. Most of the school students hail from the Tundukappu, Karamadu, and Kottiyoor colonies. Unfortunately, the Scheduled Tribes Development Department does not provide transportation facilities for children in the Tundukappu area to reach school. The Parents and Teachers Association (PTA) raises funds to address this issue.

From Karamadu, located on the Mananthavady-Thirunelli road, students must walk approximately one kilometre through the forest to reach the school. Some fear travelling this route due to potential encounters with wild animals. Teachers and other staff members commute in vehicles through the Appappara-Chekadi route.

The ward-level committee has been actively visiting households and villages in the area to ensure children are enrolled in school. Various initiatives have been led by Shaila Vijayan, a gram panchayat member; Sheela Babu, the PTA president; N Nayana, the School Management Committee chairperson; KB Pavithran, the School Development Committee chairman; and Ayilya, the tribal promoter, to encourage student enrollment.

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