MIAO, 21 April, 2017: It has been 25 years since the first Catholic school was started in Arunachal Pradesh. The first Catholic school and hostel in Arunachal Pradesh were opened on 3rd July 1992 in Borduria village in Tirap District of Arunachal Pradesh. The land for it was offered by Mr. Wanglat James Lowangcha. Saint Mother Teresa visited this place on 2nd August 1993 and the Missionaries of Charity run a shelter for women there today as the school had to be shifted to a bigger facility.
To celebrate and to take stock of the of the progress it has made in the field of education for the last 25 years, the Diocese of Miao undertook a survey cum study on the effectiveness of the hostels run in the eight districts of east Arunachal Pradesh. The educational wing of the Diocese, Newman Educational Society led by Fr. Thomas Erambil with his expert team Sr. Jacinta FMA and Fr. Roy SVD went around every hostel, collected and collated the data to come to a comprehensive summary of the progress of service of education the Catholic Church has rendered for the past 25 years.
They presented the report to the assembly of Priests and Religious on 6th April in their gathering. The same was presented and discussed at the lay leaders meetings at district level in each of the eight civil districts of the diocese.
The diocese runs a total of 28 hostels for children ranging from KG to Degree level. The total of number of students is 2605 of which 1150 are girls and 1455 are boys. Most of these hostels are necessitated by the fact that villages are far flung and the children cannot go to a good school without being in a hostel. “It is sad too in a way to snatch these lovely kids from their parental care, but they are forced into as the parents and children want a good education at the early stage itself”, says Bishop George Pallipparambil who had, with the help of Mr. Wanglat, started the first hostel 25 years ago.
This first lowly hut started by Fr. George Pallipparambil SDB, (now Bishop of Miao) along with two helpers Sri George Joseph and Miss Martha Kapalomie has bloomed not just into a mighty tree but a huge forest.
Today, the two dioceses of Arunachal Pradesh, Itanagar and Miao, together run more than 85 schools and 4 degree colleges in the remotest villages.
The study was a multi pronged one and covered every possible area of the life of the students and staff in the college. The students as well as staff actively participated in the study cum survey. The facilities, implementation of the juvenile justice act 2000, Right to free and compulsory Education 2009, Prevention of children from sexual offences (POSCO) 2012 etc., also were studied.
The remoteness of the places, the inaccessibility, being cut off by landslides, and the poverty of the parents are big constraints. But the students and staff manifested a general sense of satisfaction and the parents were very appreciative of the help. “Looking back at those days 25 years ago, in a temporary bamboo house, with no water, electricity and thing that can call facility, with 28 small boys in the hostel and 58 in school and the physical and mental agony that we went through, I feel it was all worth as we see two generations of young men and women climbing the ladder of life. It was a challenge, there were threats, elements of jealousy but faith and love helped us to surpass all those. My hats off to the people of Borduria who made it all possible” reminisces Bishop George.
“We want to give them the best of what we can with the little they have and all that we can mobilize”, remarked Fr. Anil MoC of Kulam, an interior village in Tirap District.
As of now the Diocese of Miao, which covers eight civil districts of eastern part of Arunachal Pradesh, has 45 schools, with 631 teachers, catering to the educational needs of 18558 poor tribal children in the remote corners, bordering Myanmar and China.
This and other efforts are to give the final shape to “the pastoral action plan 2025” of the diocese, being worked upon for the last one year.
-By Felix Anthony
The writer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org