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Uttar Pradesh’s ‘Mowgli Schools’: A Haven for Forest Children

April 13, 2023

Nishant Saxena

Mowgli Schools in the Dudhwa-Katarniya forest area of Uttar Pradesh’s Bahraich have become a safe and enriching place for children of forest dwellers. The schools, situated in the Motipur and Barda areas of the forest reserve, provide education to approximately 350 children, most of whom are between the ages of seven and ten. Previously, these children used to wander in the forest area to collect firewood, making them vulnerable to wild animal attacks. The establishment of Mowgli Schools by forest department officials has allowed these children to receive an education and avoid danger.

The schools are named after the protagonist, Mowgli, from Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book” and operate in the evening from forest department buildings. They provide students with colorful books, comics, sports equipment, and cartoons. The schools function as tuition centers, and children from nearby areas attend the evening classes. According to Akashdeep Badhawan, Divisional Forest Officer, most of the students come from marginalized families who work on farms during the day and attend school in the evening.

Five years ago, the concept of Mowgli Schools was born to keep kids from exploring the wild by giving them a secure environment in which to play and learn. The bordering forest between India and Nepal is a hub of man-animal conflict, and numerous instances of leopard assaults on locals have been documented. Children are to be taught about the reserve’s wildlife and the local ecosystem by forest officials.

The forest department receives support from the World Wildlife Fund (WFF) and other social organizations to run the schools. These organizations donate teaching equipment, projectors, books, and sports equipment to the schools on a regular basis. Though the schools have dedicated teachers, forest officials, veterinary experts, members of the Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF), and other government officials also volunteer and teach classes.

The schools have garnered support from parents and villagers, who appreciate the educational development of the children. Forest officials aspire for the children of the area to become an integral part of society rather than victims of human-animal conflict. The schools have seen an increase in enrollment over the years and serve as an oasis of learning and safety for children who otherwise might be at risk.

These Mowgli Schools in Uttar Pradesh’s Bahraich district offer a glimmer of hope to children who live in forested areas and face the dangers of human-animal conflict. Through their work, forest department officials, volunteers, and social organizations have provided a safe and nurturing environment where children can learn, grow, and thrive. The success of these schools highlights the importance of education and community support in promoting the well-being of vulnerable children.

Also Read: Yogi Adityanath directs formation of unified commission for teacher recruitment in UP

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