S Henlly Phom
Dimapur, May 26 (EMN): In a remote corner of Mon district, in Tobu subdivision, is a small Konyak village by the name of Obay Hoangup. Obay in Konyak means the Tragopan and Haongup, hilltop.
Located 15 km away from its “mother village Pessao”, bordering Myanmar, Obay Hoangup has an interesting story to tell.
The land where 28 households have formed the village was known for its opium cultivation, not long ago.
According to the president of Tobu Area Students Union (Tasu) Sangti Konyak, the village has no road connectivity; located on a hilltop (as its name would suggest), it takes 40-50 minutes to climb on foot from the base to reach the village. It lacks of all the basic necessities, he told Eastern Mirror recently.
Sangti narrated that Obay Hoangup was “an extended village of Pessao since 2014”; and until recently, at least one member from each family was addicted to opium. The opium cultivation and addiction went unchecked until late 2016, when a mass movement against “opium trafficking” was started by the Joint Action Committee Against Opium Addiction (JACAOA) in collaboration with Tasu, he said.
According to him, the settlers at Obay Hoangup refused to leave their village even after their opium fields were destroyed during the movement.
It was after an intervention from the Block Development Officer of Tobu, Moba Konyak that a church was constructed in the village. And Sangti was invited to speak to the villagers at the church; he spoke on the need for education and school.
In 2018, he was requested by the villagers to help start a school at Obay Hoangup. Knowing full well that it was impossible for him to do it alone, Sangti approached the Tasu.
And it was under ‘Teach for Tobu’ campaign—an initiative of Tasu “to reorganise and empower the community for developing strong sense of ownership in the uplift of education sector at the grassroots level”— that the erstwhile opium fields sprouted a school, named Hope Academy Obay.
According to Sangti, after a “fruitful sensitisation” period with the residents of Obay Hoangup, a “baseline assessment” was conducted before the establishment of the school.
The school with three rooms was constructed by the Pessao Students Union. The building was inaugurated on May 20.
According to Sangti, there were around 30 children in the age group of 3 to 9 years who will be provided with “basic education” by voluntary teachers under the sponsorship of Tasu. Classes will begin from June 1, he said.
The academy has yet to be affiliated with the state government’s school education board but Sangti reasoned, the pressing concern is ‘providing basic education.’ Tasu will pursue affiliation soon, he added.
With support from federating student unions and village education committees, Tasu has proposed the state’s Education department for adoption of one school each from Pessao village, Yongkhao village, Tamkoang village and Monyakshu village after getting necessary approval from the VEC/TEC and the student unions concerned, Sangti informed.
Preliminary discussion regarding the adoption programme of schools have been held with the director of School Education on March 19, 2019 in Kohima, he said.