The largest freshwater lake in the northeast, Manipur’s Loktak Lake houses a first of its kind floating elementary school. The school floats proudly on Loktak Lake. The Lake a.k.a “Lifeline of Manipur” provides a livelihood to many fishermen who work tirelessly day in and out to catch fresh fish. But what could be the reason for building a school on the lake? Is it providing proper education to students? You must be curious now. So, keep reading to find out the background story about the establishment of the school.
Lifeline of Manipur: Loktak Lake
Being highly productive many lives depend on the lake for endurance. It is also an Important Bird Area as it’s a potential breeding site for waterfowl and also is a staging site for migratory birds. Acting as a source of irrigation, hydropower generation and drinking water supply, the ancient lake is truly an important part for sustenance. The Lake is a source of livelihood for fishermen who live in the surrounding areas and on phumdis, also known as, “phumshongs.”
What is unique about this lake is floating heterogeneous masses of vegetation, organic and soil matter locally known as “phumdis” are found on this lake. Though there are several such ‘phumdis’ or floating islands, one such island covers 40 square kilometres.
Now the lake has an added feature to its cap by supporting the first of its kind floating elementary school. It was inaugurated at the Langolsahib Leikai of Champu Khangpok Village in Manipur. It strives to provide education to dropout students, as due to the evacuation of phumdis they were rendered homeless. Most of the men being uneducated and having a meager source of annual income by depending on fishing they are unable to send their children to schools. Due to the establishment of the school in the vicinity, locals can now provide their children with education without having to send them to far away places.
Doubtlessly, the school is a stunning example of “sustainable architecture without architects.” The establishment of this school is because of an initiative undertaken by All Loktak Lake Fisherman’s Union with the support of an NGO- People Resources Development Association (PRDA) which sanctions the honorarium of the volunteers. Looking at the current scenario the primary school is set up with the plan of expanding it in future. Accommodating 25 students and two teachers from the community the school will not only cater to the needs of children but also to illiterate adults as well. Under the project “Empowering vulnerable local communities for sustainable development” financed by Action Aid India. Contrary to the external look, the school already has been well equipped with all modern amenities like computers, solar-generated electricity and internet connectivity. The school is accessible through boats which bring children from the nearby established settlements.
Once the plan is successful they plan on expanding the project and increase the classes as well. Based on the Indian government scheme on free education to all, they will increase the class up to 8th standard so that drop-out students also get the opportunity to study. The fact should be kept in mind that, In 2006 after the introduction of Loktak Lake (Protection) Act, the Loktak Development Authority removed more than 700 floating huts as part of clearing the lake. The people have put so much effort in it and obviously, it seems they have been very successful so far.
How to Reach
India’s first floating elementary school is located on Loktak Lake in Moirang, Manipur. Stationed at a distance of 50km from Imphal, the school was inaugurated at Langolsahib Leikai of Champu Khangpok village in the state of Manipur.
By Air: Bir Tikendrajit International Airport, located in the capital city, Imphal is the nearest airport to Loktak Lake. Being just 48km apart both public and private transport services are available to take you to your destination. Car, taxis, cabs- you can go for whatever you want.
By Train: The nearest railway station to Loktak Lake is Dimapur which is about 215 km away from Imphal. Local buses are available to take visitors to the required destination with pocket-friendly rates.
By Road: Imphal is connected to Moirang via National Highway 53. If you want to enjoy your journey by travelling by-road to your destination hire a cab, taxi or take a public bus according to your choice.
A small hut-shaped building has been constructed using local techniques and using materials like thatch and bamboos. The place is worth visiting as it shows how hard people work to get an education even after having so many obstacles in their way. Do pay a visit to this place to have a sight into the village life and to enjoy the serenity of the place.