LOKTAK, Feb 9 - A floating elementary school for children of floating villages particularly for the dropouts, probably the first of its kind in India, was formally inaugurated recently on the occasion of World Wetlands Day.
The floating school has already started functioning with more than two dozen students since December last year at a floating village Champu Khangpok on the northern side of Loktak lake.
The school named as Loktak Elementary Floating School was opened under an initiative of All Loktak Lake Fishermen�s Union, Manipur (ALLAFUM) with the support of Bishnupur-based NGO � People�s Resources Development Association (PRDA) under a programme of ActionAid India.
�The idea to establish such a school came considering the sudden high dropout rate of children living in the floating villages,� said ALLAFUM secretary Oinam Rajen. �Now with the establishment of this school it will help in catering to the formal education of the children in Champu Khangpok floating village�, he added.
Loktak Development Authority had removed more than 700 floating huts as part of clearing the lake after the introduction of Loktak Lake (Protection) Act 2006, about five years go, resulting in largescale displacement of the fishing community.
Subsequently the children of these fishing communities of Langolsabi and Komjao � two main floating localities under Champu Khangpok floating village having about 204 families and a population of 460 fishermen, were forced to discontinue their education.
The newly-inaugurated school in the floating village is currently providing education to around 40 children from Class I-III by engaging two local teachers.
�We are looking for help from the government to address the school education issues of our children in the lake,� said a fisherman Kh Sangoijao (52) of Langolsabi Leikai.
The inaugural function was attended by I&PR Director Meghachandra Kongbam, IUCN�s Fish specialist Prof Waikhom Vishwanath, Zonal Education Officer of Bishnupur district, PRDA and ALLAFUM functionaries, environmentalists, educationists, NGO activists and villagers.