In Telangana, as Adivasis block Lambada teachers, children suffer

INSIDE HIS room at the Government Ashram High School at Luxetipet in Telangana’s Adilabad district, Headmaster A Sudarshan discusses with three other teachers two burning questions: What can they do to keep the school open, how can they prevent students from dropping out.

On May 31, the Adivasis announced a boycott of Lambada teachers as part of an ongoing agitation in the tribal-dominated districts of Adilabad, Komaram Bheem Asifabad and Mancherial. The Adivasis claim that a majority of benefits earmarked for STs in the state have been “cornered” by the dominant Lambada community.

But the boycott has also led to a worrying fallout. With that one move, hundreds of Lambada teachers have been kept out of schools in Adivasi-dominated areas, leaving small groups of students and teachers stranded in empty classrooms.

In Luxetipet, classes started on June 2 but Sudarshan lost 14 of 19 teachers, leaving just five from other ST groups. Of the 380 students from Class III to X, the 40 Lambadas and the 340 Adivasi students have stayed away. Today, 15 students from other communities remain at the residential school — their favourite pastime is throwing around a ball.

“We are only able to teach them one or two subjects, and students have started dropping out. Adivasis and Lambadas must come to an understanding or the government should find a solution. Otherwise, all schools will remain empty,’’ Sudarshan warns.

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