Gohalkona: Several Garo organisations on Tuesday vehemently protested against the state government’s decision to close down the Gohalkona High School in Assam’s Kamrup district.

Thousands of people from South Kamrup’s Garo villages along with the delegates of Garo National Council (GNC), Garo Sahitya Sabha (GSS), Garo Women Council (GWC) and A’Chik Holistic Awakening Movement (AHAM) took part in a public meeting organised to protest against the government’s move.

The Gohalkona High School was established in 1948. Earlier, it was an MV School that was established in 1933. The Gohalkona village, which is 10 km from Boko, is inhabited by the Garo tribal community.

“This is the only high school in this remote area. Children from the Garo community study in this school after completing their lower primary. Over 191 students in this school hail from very remote hilly areas, including Ukium and other of South Kamrup area,” said Silna J Sangma, teacher of the Gohalkona High School.

“Last year, 26 students appeared in the HSLC exam from this school, but all of them failed to crack the Class X board examination,” she added.

When asked about the reasons behind the failure, she said, “The COVID-19 pandemic affected the students. While online classes were going on in the other parts of the state, students here couldn’t switch to online mode as there is no proper internet services in the area. Besides, some students didn’t have smartphones. Moreover, the school is running without adequate teachers in many subjects.”

Foldin R Marak, president, Garo Students’ Union, said “More than 1000 Garo people have gathered here to protest against the closing of Garo medium school. The state government has already decided to close the Garo medium schools in Assam. If the existing schools are closed, where will the children of this school study?”

“For many years, the state government has been neglecting Garo medium schools. If such things continue, how can we live in Assam? We should merge with Meghalaya than stay with Assam. The Garo Student’s Union strongly opposes the closing down of this Garo medium school. We demand the government of Assam not close the school. If the government of Assam doesn’t accept our demand we will take another step,” he added. 

Jonson J Sangma, a resident of the Gohalkona village, said, “Gohalkona high school was established long back and many Garo tribal officers passed out from this school. So, I request the Assam government to come and visit here once before taking any final decision regarding the closure of this prestigious school.”

Hadric D Sangma, president of Kamrup district GSS said, “For the last 4-5 years, this school’s result has been moderately good. Only last year i.e., in 2021, the result was zero. This school educates students below the poverty line among Garos in the South Kamrup district bordering Meghalaya state. The closing of this school will be a great loss to the poor people. if this school is closed, the students i.e. around 191 students admitted here will not be able to go anywhere since there is no Garo medium school nearby. So we don’t want this school to be closed. So on behalf of the Gohalkona village, I request the government to cancel the Cabinet decision which they have taken.”

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