Will always finds a way!

Crowdfunding helps revive govt school in Kodagu
Will always finds a way!

MADIKERI: Government schools might be losing importance in cities, but they are still the mainstay for educating children from rural areas. In Kodagu, a government school this year scored cent percent results in SSLC with the lone girl student from the school passing.

At a time when many government schools are shutting down because of lack of students, villagers at Neerugalale in the interiors of Somwarpet taluk in Kodagu district and alumni of the school got together to revive the Neerugalale Government Primary and High School . The villagers formed a committee along with the alumni association -- Poorva Prathamika Shala Samithi (Pre-Primary School Committee) -- and started the process.

What is inspiring and unique is that the villagers did not take any monetary assistance from the state government, and the entire project is the initiative of the villagers and alumni.

The school, which is 67 years old, started off as a primary school. The high school section was introduced only in 2007. While the institution had a considerable number of admissions in the past, it slowly started declining with parents preferring private schools. The majority of students come from backward classes, and this year, 114 were admitted in all, from grades 1 to 10.

“Government schools must not become places reserved only for the labour class. These schools can survive only when they are on a par with private schools,” said high school teacher Rathna Kumar, who has been working with the institution for the past 16 years.

The Neerugalale Government School, and the new LKG classroom at the school, after the renovation | Express
The Neerugalale Government School, and the new LKG classroom at the school, after the renovation | Express

“The majority of students here are from the Jenu Kuruba tribe, who work as estate labourers. But the school management wanted to attract more admissions and that was when the Poorva Prathamika Shaala Samithi was formed. As the admissions were declining year on year, the villagers, along with the school alumni, and the School Development and Monitoring Committee (SDMC) formed the committee. We held a meeting in March last year, and had set plans that we looked forward to introducing at the institution,” explained Rathna Kumar.

The committee’s first plan was to introduce kindergarten and to renovate the old building on the campus, for which permission was sought from the taluk BEO. But the education department authorities informed the committee that there was not enough funds or manpower to enable new classes for students. The committee then decided not to take any monetary help from the government.

“The campus has an old building with five classrooms, which was renovated using crowdfund. The BEO was supportive of the committee, and we took it upon ourselves to introduce LKG in the school,” Kumar said. Members from the committee and SDMC approached donors before starting the renovation work, and collected around Rs 10 lakh from villagers and alumni.

The  ‘Poorva Prathamika Shaala Samithi’ committee members
The ‘Poorva Prathamika Shaala Samithi’ committee members

“The work began with replacing old roof-tiles and plastering the walls. In about four to five months, three of the five rooms were renovated. One was converted into a classroom with brand new furniture, the second room became a games room and the third into an office. There are two more rooms that will be renovated once more funds are arranged. We have also built a hi-tech toilet on the school campus,” Kumar said.

After the renovation, the committee members visited villagers and encouraged them to enrol their wards in the school. The committee’s efforts bore fruit and 15 students enrolled for LKG. “Next year, we will introduce UKG. And the year after, we hope to get the state’s permission to introduce English medium for grade 1,” Kumar said and added that currently, the SDMC is bearing teachers’ salaries.

While many teachers in interior villages wait to be transferred out, the efforts of the Neerugalele School management has set an example. “Teacher Rathna Kumar took special care in ensuring the school’s development. The villagers joined hands to save the school that has imparted education to thousands,” said school principal Esthela Silva.

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