Guwahati, Dec 6: An ambitious rural education programme aims at bringing a ray of hope for those residing in Assam's seasonal islands of the Brahmaputra river and its tributaries where poverty and illiteracy are common.
The Ajmal National Rural Education Programme (ANREM) will focus on the 'char' (seasonal islands) villages as these account for one of the largest concentration of illiterate population in the state with 68 per cent of the dwellers being below the poverty line.
Launched by NGO Ajmal Foundation, it aims to improve the prevailing dismal educational scenario in the backward 'char' and tribal areas of 17 districts in the state.
"The programme has been evolved following long-drawn consultations with front ranking educationists for the last one-and-a-half years. The first step has been to adopt schools under its pilot project and the focus will be on improving its infrastructure," says Programme Coordinator N I Laskar.
A dozen schools have been already selected in the most backward areas of the state and "we will support them in their infrastructure building under the pilot project of the movement," he adds.
Preference will be given to private schools which do not receive any support from the government or any other agencies.
According to the Socio-Economic Survey Report of the Assam Directorate of Char Areas Development, the literacy rate in these areas increased marginally from 15.45 per cent to 19.31 per cent between 1992-93 and 2003-04.
During this period, a surprising trend was that there was a fall in literacy rate in char villages of the four districts of Bongaigaon, Kamrup, Dhubri and Tinsukia.