In a remarkable display of determination and unity, students hailing from Thingsulthliah Higher Secondary School in Mizoram undertook a grueling 45-kilometer march from their village to the state capital, Aizawl. Their mission: to advocate for the transformation of their school’s status from the existing ‘grant-in-aid’ category to ‘adhoc-grant-in-aid status’.
The decision to embark on this arduous journey was made by the student union leaders on September 20, driven by their desire to personally deliver an appeal letter to Chief Minister Zoramthanga and State Education Minister Lalchhandama Ralte, requesting the coveted upgradation.
The students’ resolve was unwavering as they marched for over 10 hours on foot in a single day to deliver their plea. They garnered massive support from their village, where shops, offices, and educational institutions unitedly shut down from 9 am to 1 pm in solidarity with the students’ cause.
Around 3 pm on Wednesday, the students reached the outskirts of the capital, Aizawl, where they were warmly received by the president and members of the Mizo Students’ Union. Seven representatives from the school’s student union body, accompanied by members of the Mizo Students’ Union, are scheduled to meet with CM Zoramthanga at 10 am on Thursday to formally submit the appeal letter regarding their school’s status upgrade.
Speaking to the media, R. Lalfakawma, the principal of Thingsulthliah Higher Secondary School, expressed their longstanding demand for the status upgrade, a promise made by the government in 2018. He recounted, “The school was established by the Thingsulthliah Village Council in 2004. During the 2018 general election campaign, the government promised to upgrade our institution from the lump-sum grant-in-aid category to ad-hoc-grant-in-aid status, but the promise has not been delivered till today.” Lalfakawma further emphasized the relentless efforts of the joint action committee dedicated to securing the school’s upgradation.
He acknowledged the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, which may have hindered various developmental projects. However, with the upcoming general election, concerns have arisen that their 19-year-old school might not witness the commitment that was initially pledged.
Thingsulthliah Higher Secondary School currently enrolls 156 students and employs 13 staff members, boasting the highest enrollment record among single educational institutions in Mizoram villages.
Notably, ad hoc-grant-in-aid status offers several advantages, including teachers receiving basic pay along with a partial allowance. In contrast, the lump-sum grant-in-aid entails the institution receiving a mere annual grant of three lakhs. Principal Lalfakawma highlighted the financial burden on parents, predominantly daily wage laborers, who struggle to pay the monthly fees. Therefore, obtaining ad hoc-grant-in-aid status would greatly benefit the entire village.
The students’ determination and commitment to this cause reflect their aspirations for a brighter educational future, and their march serves as a powerful symbol of their quest for educational equality and opportunity.
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