KURNOOL: Her dedication to her profession transformed the fortunes of JM Thanda, a remote tribal village in Pathikonda mandal of Kurnool district. M Kalyani Kumari was the only teacher in the village until recently. When she was transferred to the JM Thanda Mandal Parisath Elementary School in 2017 as a secondary grade teacher (SGT), there were only two students enrolled there. This was the time when the district authorities were inclined to even shut down the school.
Her efforts over the past five years brought great results as the school now boasts of having 55 students. “Government officials, who wanted to close it down due to poor enrolment, have now allotted another senior teacher to the school,” she said.After her transfer from the Pathikonda Mandal Parisath Primary School, she faced a near-impossible task of convincing tribal families to send their children to school.
“JM Thanda is a hamlet in the Dudekonda gram panchayat, and is home to nearly 100 Sugali tribal families. Most of the people here are uneducated. I approached the family heads, and tried to convince them saying the children could learn and prosper. There are even instances of students from private schools joining the government school.”Kalyani Kumari has also taken it upon herself to see to that children who pass Class V from the school continued their formal education.
She keeps in touch with many of her former students who are now pursuing high school in nearby villages. On how she was able to increase the enrolment in her school, she said she organised a programme every week to distribute pens, books and other stationeries to students who excelled. The weekly winners were called ‘Star of the Week’. She took care of the expenses on her own.
Kalyani Kumari has been a teacher for over a decade now. She first joined as a SGT teacher at Nagarakanvi village of Holagunda mandal, which borders Ballari of Karnataka, on December 1, 2010. After five years of working there, she was transferred to Pathikonda town. She said she managed to convince the authorities to renovate the JM Thanda school under the Manabadi Nadu-Nedu programme. The school has been listed to be renovated in the government’s programme’s second phase. Several social organisations and teachers’ unions have facilitated for her contribution to education.