Of green lessons at school

DEVELOPMENT

Of green lessons  at school

Gurukul in progress: Classes being conducted  under a tree. Photo by the author

This school makes for the perfect example when it comes to effective implementation of green, eco-friendly measures. We are talking about the Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat Higher Primary School at Suribailu in Bantwal taluk.

The school, located in the middle of a four-acre parched land, is today a carpet of lush green.

All credit for this must go to agriculturalist S M Abubaker who adopted the school in 2008-09 under the school adoption programme.

Speaking to Spectrum, Abubaker who was the former president of School Development Monitory Committee (SDMC) explains that he a student of this school and has a sentimental attachment to it.

“I am an agriculturist by profession and I wanted to do something for the school.

“Therefore, I thought the best thing is to grow vegetables and fruit trees in the school which will be useful for children,” says Abubaker, and adds that with the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) he hired workers to dig pits to grow 250 arecanut trees and 250 banana plants.

Freshly-grown veggies

In 2008, the State government released a cash incentive to encourage primary schools to grow vegetables.

This meant vegetables like gherkins, drumstick, pumpkin, bottle gourd, spinach, beans, ladies finger and cucumber were planted, points out Abubaker.

The agriculturist has spent Rs one lakh to grow various plants and trees. “Today these freshly grown veggies are used in meals prepared for children as part of the mid-day meal programme,” says school headmistress Kalyani Gangadhar.

 Fruits such as chikoo, guava, pineapple, mango, butter fruit, litchi, lime, jamun, banana and papaya are distributed to the children after their mid-day meals.

Apart from vegetables and fruits, various medicinal plants are also grown,” she adds.

“The world is a concrete jungle today and the climate is drastically changing. Thanks to vegetable crops grown in the school, children show some interest in agriculture, and they will realise the importance of greenery, says Kalyani and adds that “it’s in our hands to encourage the future generation to develop a green vision.”

Classes under trees

The children in this school prefer to be outside the class to staying indoors. Much like the Gurukula system, children here are taught under the shade of trees.

“Nature has always been an inspiration and children seem to love the classes outside. This initiative also helps in practical learning. In other schools, children are shown pictures of flowers and trees but here we can show the child a real tree and enhance learning,” says the school science teacher Navitha.

The Suribailu School has also constructed a ‘Parisara Katte’ which has few cement benches under a tree with a board where children can be taught. “I enjoy classes conducted under the tree as it’s very cool here and our teachers also give us practical sessions by taking us on a stroll in the field. We have also studied that sunlight provides Vitamin D, so classes outside are helping us,” says Khathijath who studies in Standard VIII. Ayesha, another student, says that she is interested in growing vegetables and has planted gherkin creepers in her home. The plants have just about started to flower, and she is very excited that she has grown the vegetables herself.

Water harvesting

“Water is a scarcity in villages and we need a lot of water for plants especially during summer,” observes Abubaker and points out that he has solved the water crisis by installing a water harvesting system in the school. The water from the school rooftop is collected and forwarded to a well which is 60 feet deep and 13 feet wide. The government has helped us build a tank for the water harvesting system, says Abubaker and adds that with this initiative, the water level has risen in the wells of the neighbouring houses, apart from the school well. Sprinklers have been installed in the vegetable farm of the school and this solves the problem of watering plants, he adds.

Waste segregation

The school has also developed a waste management system. “Every class in the school has two dustbins. Biodegradable waste is put in the green dustbin and this waste is dumped in the compost pit, where natural compost is used as a fertiliser for the plants. Non biodegradable waste is collected in the red dustbin and disposed carefully,” says the school headmistress.

Innovative learning methods

This school has also adopted a unique method to enhance children’s writing skills.  A cardboard post-box is hung outside the headmaster’s office room and the children are allowed to write letters to anyone in the school. Every lunch break, a student collects the letters and distributes it to the class teachers. “I love writing letters as it is fun. We wish our friends during their birthdays by posting greeting cards. We also write jokes and proverbs and post it to our friends. Sometimes we are allowed to read our letters aloud and share information with our classmates,” says Shamsunisa. The letter writing system has a good response from students. It helps to enhance children’s knowledge and also improves their handwriting.

The class teachers read the letters before distributing, just to ensure that the matter in the letter is written without errors, says Kalyani Gangadhar.

“Apart from this, we also award stars to students who don’t miss classes and felicitate them during the annual day or children’s day. Whenever an entire class is present we hang a flag outside the class, which acts as a motivator to the students,” she says. Admissions in Suribailu School have increased with each passing year. “There are 339 children enrolled in this school. Our school has been notified as a model school as part of the Sarva Shikshana Abhiyan programme.

The school’s green initiatives find a mention in ‘Chinnara Darshana’ book. Other government school staff and students visit our school during their class tour,” says a proud Kalyani. “Suribailu School is a model school.

The Education Department has plans to include Standard IX and X in the school,” says Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat Deputy Director of Public Instruction Chame Gowda.

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