This Article is From Jul 16, 2015

Empty Classrooms In Manipur as Protests Continue

The Manipur government says it is trying it's best to get classes in Imphal's schools to start again.

Imphal: For over a week now, schools in Manipur's capital city Imphal have remained closed because of an agitation to restrict the entry of outsiders in the state. School children, in fact, have been at the forefront of this agitation. 

But how soon will children return to the classrooms at Imphal's Regular English High School, is a question that has N Nimaichand, secretary one of Imphal's biggest with 2,300 students, pretty worried.

The latest shutdown for the state's schools and colleges is not new to Manipur. Just this year, there have been at least 75 days of strikes across Manipur, and educational institutions have been shut for that time. 

Because of these protests, curfews have become the norm in Imphal and across Manipur in the last decade. 

Nimaichand says he cannot remember a year since 2010 when the number of teaching days went beyond 200, well below what is acceptable.

"It is very difficult to complete the curriculum. We request our teachers to teach on Sundays and take extra classes," says Mr Nimaichand.

Among the students hardest hit by what's happening are Amarjit and Shailesh, both class 10 students at Imphal schools, who come from poor families in Manipur's far flung areas and pay hostel fees over and above their tuition.

Both of them though, say they support the agitation in favour of the Inner Line Permit, which aims to restrict the entry of outsiders in Manipur.

"My first thought is that children who are studying should only be studying in school. But students participating in social and political agitations is a very healthy sign," says Babloo Loitongbam, Director of Human Rights Alert.

The Manipur government says it's trying it's best to get schools up and running.

"Slowly we are relaxing the curfew. We are also actively considering when we can open schools," says Okram Ibobi Singh, Chief Minister of Manipur.