Class in session at Madappady

Development

Success Story: The Madappady school now has lush green lawns, with educational tools, apart from an artefacts museum. Photos by Vinobha K T

There was a time when villagers of Madappady Gram Panchayat in Sullia taluk of Dakshina Kannada district had organised protests demanding the Education Department to shut down the Madappady Government Upper Primary School (MGUPS). That was in 2002.

The villagers were angry that the school did not have basic facilities and was severely short-staffed. But the same remote village school, which was on the verge of closure, has now emerged as a model for the entire district.

Teachers, students and the School Development and Monitoring Committee (SDMC) members worked hard to ensure that the school bagged the ‘Best School’ award as part of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyana (SSA) for 2008-09. School headmaster K Damodara has also has been honoured with the ‘Best Teacher’ award by the Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat for his meritorious service in 2008-09.

The MGUPS was started at an inaccessible and sparsely populated Madappady village, about 105 kilometres away from Mangalore, in 1953.

Earlier, children of Madappady village had to walk at least eight kilometres to reach the nearest school in Kandrappadi. The idea of opening a school materialised under the leadership of late Golyadi Thammappa Gowda and late Bandadka Subbaiah Patel with the opening of a small shed in 1951. The school is now functioning on 2.23 acres of land in Madappady.

Shortage of teachers
Till 2002, none of the children and parents in the village took any note of the school. They were left with a feeling of disillusionment because, whenever a teacher was appointed to the school by the department, the first thing the teacher would do was to apply for long leave. Later, the teacher would either return to the school with a transfer order or quit the job.

There were other reasons that forced teachers to opt not to work at MGUPS. The foremost reason was inaccessibility. A teacher had to travel nearly four hours from Mangalore to reach the school. Also, there were absolutely no accommodation facilities for teachers in the village and they had to stay back in the classrooms.

Quarters for teachers
It was post 2002 that there were changes in people’s  outlook about the school with the new headmaster K Damodara taking charge. Damodara met SDMC office-bearers and other leaders in the village to chalk out long term plans for the development of the school. Subsequently, the ‘Kadya Chinnappa Gowda and Valtaje Madaiah Gowda Quarters’ for teachers were built in the school premises with the help of donors. With this, the problem of shortage of teachers was solved.

Damodara told Spectrum that there were only three teachers including him to teach 121 students from standard 1 to 7, when he took over as headmaster in 2002. “But now the teachers’ strength in the school has risen to six after the inauguration of a teachers’ quarters,” he explained.

Similarly, several other development works including the construction of Golyadi Thammappa Gowda Theatre, Kadya N Parameshwara Gowda Playground, Madappadi Subbappa Master Gate and a compound, with the co-operation from villagers, changed the look of the school, Damodara said.

Innovative garden to teach science
An innovative garden developed in the school premises speaks for  the enthusiasm of students, teachers and the SDMC members. The distinguishing feature of the innovative garden is that it is not only useful for teachers, but also easy for students to understand Mathematics, Physics and English. For instance, mathematical symbols for addition, multiplication, subtraction and division were all created by pruning the border plants (boxwood plants) in the garden. Similarly, shapes including the triangle, the rectangle, circle, cube, pyramid and cylinder too were created shaping the border plants. The symbol for the theory of light and reflection is explained using border plants in the garden in such a way that it helps children recall the theory very easily.  Then, there is a garden of English alphabet, which was created by pruning boxwood shrubs. The staff of the school including assistant headmaster S Thejappa, teachers S Varadaraju, K S Sumana, Deepa, and Malathi work with the headmaster and children to maintain the garden and also use it for teaching. Damodara said that work on laying out gardens for medicinal plants and vegetables are under way in the school premises.
 
Artefacts museum
A rural artefacts museum is yet another endeavour by the children, teachers and SDMC members, and focuses on the heritage of the village. The museum has a collection of artefacts used by villagers in their houses as well as in the farms.

Negilu, noga, mente, halage (tools used for ploughing), balla, komme, kalasige, seru (paddy measurement vessels), hallukathi (harvesting tool), onake, oralu (grinding tool), gorabe (rain coat made of palm leaf), yekkad (wooden footwear), chodunku, (belt for coconut tree climbers), thottilu (wooden woven cradle) and other rare wooden and metal artefacts are displayed in the museum.

Future generations may never get the opportunity to see and understand such tools used in villages. “The objective behind the setting up of such a museum is that the technology-driven future generations should also have an idea of how their ancestors lived. All artefacts displayed in the museum were collected by way of a united effort by students, teachers and the SDMC,” Damodara added. The efforts of SDMC president Dharmapala, former president Valthaje Balakrishna Gowda, leaders P C Jayarama, Babu Kaje, Shashidhara Kevala and other villagers have together made the model school possible.

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