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Crossing Sutlej on boat & 5 km on foot, they reach school

Punjab edu secy promises a solution soon to students of Kaluwala village in Ferozepur

Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepur, January 13

Amandeep Singh (14) of Kaluwala village, a student of Class VI in Government Senior Secondary School of Gatti Rajoke village, has to get up every day at 5 am in this piercingly cold winter. He has to help his father Joginder Singh, a small-time farmer, with daily chores before heading towards the Sutlej river to take a boat ride for reaching the school.

His ordeal does not end here. After crossing the river on a makeshift boat, he has to walk another 5 km to finally reach his school. The entire process takes almost two hours one way and again the long arduous journey is repeated while returning home. Besides him, there are at least 15 other students from his village who make the Herculean effort daily to reach the school.

The freezing temperatures and fog pose a challenge during winter, while the scorching heat in summer too tests their stamina and endurance. During rains too, they find it difficult to reach the school and there are times when they have to skip classes for days together. In August last year, when the area was inundated due to release of excess water downstream Harike, many students could not reach their houses and had to put up with relatives or acquaintances near the school.

Two days back, Krishan Kumar, Secretary (Education), visited the school in this remote border area and learnt about the plight of the students. To get a first-hand feel of the students’ plight, he took a ride on their boat to reach their village. Kumar interacted with the parents of the students and listened to their grievances while promising them a solution soon. The parents demanded that either a pontoon bridge should be constructed or some school should be set up in the village itself.

This is the only senior secondary school in Gatti Rajoke, catering to Kaluwala and 14 other nearby villages near the India-Pakistan border. It has 690 students.

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