Odisha: Slum kids transform abandoned school into learning centre-cum-library

Artist Pramod Muduli and children of a city slum transformed a deserted school into a learning centre-cum-library during the summer vacation.  

Published: 19th June 2022 10:12 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th June 2022 10:49 AM   |  A+A-

Children outside the learning centre along with Pramod Muduli | IRFANA

Children outside the learning centre along with Pramod Muduli | IRFANA

Express News Service

BHUBANESWAR: Where there is a will there is a way. The adage aptly defines the children of Nilakanta Nagar Munda Sahi in the Capital City who have transformed an abandoned school into a learning centre-cum-library for themselves with the help of an artist Pramod Muduli and local youths.  

To make the centre look attractive, they painted its walls resembling train coaches. “The idea to paint school walls like train coaches was to encourage children to come to the place in their free time to study and learn art and crafts,” said Pramod, president of Odisha Art and Craft Foundation who along with local youths helped the children of the slum in renovating the structure.

Pramod, an artist from Khandagiri who has set up the foundation to impart free art classes to slum children, said he came to know about the desire of the students to learn the art from the secretary of his foundation Prakash Reddy, a member of the Nilakanta Nagar slum club Mahavir Seva Sangathan.

While looking for a space, Pramod said, they decided to revamp the primary school which was lying abandoned for over a decade. He said the small primary school was set up in the slum by an individual but was later closed down. The open area in front of the school was used as a dumping site by locals.

Considering the children’s request, Pramod decided to take up the project voluntarily with the help of the youth members of the club and slum. Children, too, actively took part in cleaning and restoring the place. They helped Pramod in colouring the school walls and windows as train coaches during their 11-day summer vacation. While the school earlier had three rooms, the children are currently using one room which has been converted into the learning centre-cum-library.

Books of elementary-level classes have been kept in the room where the students come in their free time to study. “While members of the club have decided to teach the slum children for five days, our foundation will conduct drawing, painting and art classes for them every Saturday and Sunday,” Pramod said. The initiative has reached out to 50 children of the slum studying in primary, upper primary and secondary levels in nearby schools.

It is increasing their inquisitiveness towards learning. The same children who were hesitant to attend classes and were roaming here and there are now showing interest to come to the place to read books and learn art skills in their free time. “It is also helping them to know the importance of going to schools,” he said.

Sugun Oram, the parent of a child from the slum, said they are happy to see the children engaging themselves in learning activities at the place during free hours instead of wasting time. Such initiative should be replicated in other parts of the city where poor children cannot do anything constructive due to a lack of resources, she said.  


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