Class act for tribal kids

One dedicated teacher transforms a remote village and its children.

Published: 11th September 2022 06:36 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th September 2022 06:36 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

CHITRADURGA:  For Umesh TP, education is a mission. From tutoring tribal children to building infrastructure for their education, he has transformed the hamlet of Amruthapura in Holalkere taluk of Chitradurga. Umesh, 42, a teacher at Amruthapura Government Primary School, richly deserves the Best Teacher National Award, which he won for the year 2022.

Umesh joined the teaching profession in 2004 at Chikkabellari in Ballari district, then taught at Keshavapura School in Holalkere taluk, before joining the government school in Amruthapura, where he has served for the past 12 years. Amruthapur is a remote tribal village which is still off the bus route grid, and people who wish to travel by bus have to walk 5km to reach Chitrahalli Gate, the nearest bus stop.

The area, which has semi-nomadic tribes called Kadu Gollas, had little by way of education. When Umesh landed here, his first priority was to bring in discipline and cleanliness, which he did with great success. He connected with local social workers to collect funds, to ensure that infrastructure like school buildings, kitchen, hall, toilets, library and smart classrooms were successfully introduced for students, who gradually got acquainted with Umesh’s methods.

He decided to set up a mini laboratory in the school to instil scientific thinking among the children. For this, he collected used and worn-out scientific apparatus and chemicals from colleges in Chitradurga, and demonstrated experiments to the children.

NGOs contribute to infrastructure
In 2016, a private NGO called OSAAT (One School At A Time), built four well-equipped rooms, toilets for boys and girls at a cost of Rs 30 lakh, 20 desks and 60 reading tables. OSAAT is a non-profit organisation dedicated to rebuilding the infrastructure of rural schools in the country. It was founded by a group of eight IT professionals of Indian origin in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Bengaluru-based Rotary Association got a water filter for children, costing Rs 3 lakh. Along with studies, extra-curricular activities were also supported and a theatre was built at a cost of Rs 3 lakh with the help of local donors. Umesh’s friend got three laptops from a donor, which are being used for tech-driven education.

Umesh’s success story is evident, with his first batch of students studying postgraduation and some joining government service. “The school had just 32 children in 2012, and the number increased to 85 children, who come regularly. Our school has more than 2,500 books on a wide spectrum of subjects, including science and technology. We have been imparting education among children with the intention of creating future leaders. Utilisation of the e-learning platform has helped us provide knowledge on a wide range of topics,” Umesh told The New Sunday Express.  

“I have created assets for society since the past 19 years, and will continue with my journey. Government schools can survive if every teacher ensures that students of his ward and village reach school, and that government schools survive,” said Umesh. “As the primary school does not have a laboratory to instil science studies, I decided to visit neighbourhood high schools and the science college, where I collected used beakers and other apparatus and chemicals, which I use for teaching. Many of my students are now studying science in PU,” he explained.

Srinivas, BEO of Holalkere, said, “I have been visiting this school for the past 10 years and can testify for its transformation, which has cent per cent attendance and enrolment, and children are good at studies.”

IT pros raise funds
Vadiraja Bhat of OSAAT told, “We were IT professionals, and had a team to work on fundraising for charity. But we were not satisfied as no help was being extended to our motherland. That was when we decided to enter the school sector, after interacting with some principals. Pumping funds to improve infrastructure will not help in the overall development of schools. It only gives instant gratification to the donor. This is exactly what the schools require. Our mission is to help rebuild the infrastructure of rural, underprivileged government schools so they can run in a safe and strong environment. We will choose one school at a time.” “Government schools in rural areas are old and dilapidated, endangering the lives of children. Their sorry state caught the attention of OSAAT, which has been working to rectify and revive these centres of learning to help rural children,” he added.

Umesh TP
India Matters


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