As many as 5,000 students have to work as domestic help to continue their studies in Assam’s West Karbi Anglong district.

This was alleged by Opposition leader in the Assam Legislative Assembly, Debabrata Saikia, on the floor of the House on the third day of the budget session on March 14.

Raising the issue during zero hour of the house, Saikia, while quoting a media report, said, “They do not get the pleasant atmosphere at home due to which they migrate to adjoining districts and work as domestic help to continue their study. Despite the consistent effort by the state government, the educational scenario in West Karbi Anglong is still poor.”

“Our all-India literacy rate is 77 per cent. The literacy rate in Assam is 72 per cent. But the literacy rate of Karbi Anglong is less than the state average. According to the 1953 survey, there were only 180 primary schools in Karbi Anglong which goes up to 2,000 in the 2016 survey. The number of middle English schools was 14 in 1953 and it rose to 56 in 2016. Similarly, the number of high schools was 1 in 1953 and it has gone up to 18 in 2018,” Saikia further said.

He also said the state government has announced setting up of a state university in Karbi Anglong in the state budget for 2022-23. There is a Diphu Campus of Assam University (DCAU) running in Diphu in the Central sector.

“It is a matter of grave concern that a lot of students have to come down to nearby districts and stay as domestic help to continue their study in schools,” he alleged.

“The state government has been spending a lot of money for the improvement of educational infrastructures and appointment of teachers. But many schools in this hill district are running with single teachers. There is scope for improvement of the situation,” he added.

He also pointed out a 62-year school in the district where a single teacher is teaching around 100 students. The government’s Mid Day Meal Scheme is not implemented in this school, he further alleged. There is no uniformity in their wage structure and their wage level is very low. However, they are compelled to do this job because of lower education or poor financial background, he added.

In reply to the motion, state education minister Ranoj Pegu said the state government has been working to provide education to out-of-school students in the state.

“According to a survey conducted in the last year, there are 1.15 lakh out-of-school students in the state. The number is higher in Majuli and West Karbi Anglong. These out-of-school children have two categories – dropout children and never enrolled children,” Pegu said.

“There have been consistent efforts from the women and children department and panchayat and rural development department for the welfare of children and their mothers in the state. We provide special education to students in residential and non-residential institutions.

“These 1.15 lakh out-of-the-school students are now studying in 1,882 Non Residential Training Centres (NRTC) across the state. They will be provided education from three months to 24 months based on their age limit. After completion of the training, they will be transferred to regular schools,” the minister said.

The minister also said that necessary legal action should be taken against those who keep school children as domestic help.

“Child labour is illegal. Anyone who practices child labour should be punished as per law. The citizens have also a responsibility towards it,” he added.