The government primary and middle school in Sonahalli in H D Kote taluk, in the tribal region of Mysuru district, was on the verge of closure after the student strength fell to just 9 about four years ago. But, ever since the school was adopted by an NGO in 2018-19, its prospects began improving with student enrolment increasing with each year.
“The school began the academic year 2022-23 with enrolment of 120 children from classes 1 to 7, including some students who had migrated to private schools in the vicinity,” said C K Muralidhar, representing Madilu Seva Trust.
When the school was about to be closed in 2018, the Trust’s founder Madilu Arasu took the initiative to contact Block Education Officer of H D Kote taluk Revanna and entered into an MoU to develop it into a model school.
After a meeting with parents of the school’s students, the NGO realised that lack of quality education and transportation from far-flung tribal areas were the key reasons for the fall in student strength in the government school.
The NGO succeeded in securing the appointment of two guest teachers in addition to the existing government teachers comprising a head master and two teachers. A post-graduate from the local tribal community Sunanda Bagler has been employed by the Trust to coach interested students after school hours.
A van was deployed to transport students from far-flung areas to the school. “About 40 students have opted for transport. The van makes three trips each day to bring and drop off students of the school,” said Mr Muralidhar.
Some of the students come from as far as 10 km away. Though their parents would drop them and pick them up in their vehicles, the transport facility arranged by the Trust has made it convenient for many students to attend school regularly. “Though a nominal fee has been fixed for transportation, we do not insist on payment from parents who cannot afford it,” he said.
The Trust has established a facility in the school premises to make available free books, stationary, school bags, school uniform, shoes and socks to students.
The NGO, in a joint initiative with Prerana Trust of U.S., has been conducting weekly classes through video-conference to facilitate interaction between the students of the school and children of Indian origin residing in the U.S. The interactions relating to hygiene, etiquette, arts, geography, environmental issues and astronomy are co-ordinated by Sunanda Bagler.
“The tribal students teach yoga and Sanskrit shlokas to their counterparts in the U.S.,” says Mr Muralidhar.