AUSTIN TOWN:For a few decades, the Yelagundapalya Government Urdu School in Austin Town was a picture of neglect with its broken compound wall and dilapidated building.
Two years ago, Silverline Foundation, the CSR arm of city-based real estate firm Silverline, and Rotary Bangalore Midtown joined hands with the Education Department to revamp the school at a cost of Rs 70 lakh. Today, it has six new classrooms, proper desks and chairs, a computer lab, an auditorium and a library.
It was established in 1921 as Mohammedan Girls School. At some point in the last century, the land was transferred to the Education Department and the school was converted into an Urdu-medium primary school. The aim was to provide quality education free of cost to poor Muslim children. Over the years, the compound wall was damaged and the building, with no one to maintain it, became decrepit. Successive governments did little to revive the school.
Silverline Foundation’s association with the school began in the early 2000s. It adopted the school 10 years ago and provided it with additional teaching staff and better infrastructure. It also made sure English was offered as a medium of instruction alongside Urdu. Two years ago, the Education Department finally decided to give the school a makeover and set aside Rs 25 lakh. On top of this, Rs 20 lakh was taken from the MLA fund, while Rotary Bangalore Midtown and Silverline Foundation pumped in the remaining amount.
Farook Mohammed, trustee of Silverline Foundation, said when they adopted the school, it had very poor infrastructure and taught only girls. “All the stakeholders wanted to make a difference. We made an appeal to the government.” He added that e-learning too has been initiated.
Principal C Nagaraja said, “We mostly cater to children from Neelasandra, Rajendra Nagar, Austin Town and Ashok Nagar. We have about 350 students in classes 1 to 10. Parents who once had reservations about sending their children to the school now admit them here happily. Many suggested that English be taught and used as a medium of instruction too, and we have started doing so.”
Venkatraman Iyer, a social worker, said, “It is heartening to see children choosing to study in English. It shows that the poorest of the poor believe their children need English education to escape the trap of poverty.”