In the wake of several government schools closing down due to the lack of students, here is a school that people rush to, for admitting their children. The Government Higher Primary School at Kallambella village of Sira taluk, Tumakuru district, has preferred to take the private schools head-on, instead of backing out from the competition.
There is, however, every chance that a visitor will mistake the government school to be private. The school has smart classes and the students comfortably use tablets as a source of information. The teachers take classes using satellite communication as well as projectors and laptops, especially to make easy the ‘difficult’ Science classes. The computer classes, library and laboratory, all are well-equipped and properly maintained. Parents have almost always preferred to send their children to private schools for the ‘poor quality’ of education and facilities in the government schools. The situation has continued, and questions arise as to how the government school at Kallambella has managed to defy all such conventional notions and prevalent conditions.
The story of the school goes back to 1930. It began with an appreciably high number of students — 800 to 900 — but the impact of private schools in the vicinity reduced the number to merely a 100, at one point in time. In the previous academic year, there were 157 students, but now, there are 336 students, a good recovery. The school has LKG and UKG sections, started this year, which together have about 180 students. Overall, there are 516. Interestingly, the school has succeeded in weaning away 130 students from private schools.
Anil Kumar, who took charge as the head teacher in 2015, has strived to make the school a model. Students learn in English medium starting with Class VI. As an outcome, the students of the school are found conversing in English fluently. The Suvidya Foundation, Bengaluru, has donated 10 tabs, while Infosys has given six computers. The students of Classes V, VI and VII learn Mathematics, Science and English in English now. The Indian Literacy Project (ILP) has also ‘adopted’ the school and ensured that it has been provided with infrastructure. The teachers have been using the facilities to improve the quality of education at the school, which has proven a prominent factor in making the school more attractive than private institutions for students to enrol.
On the other hand, the school administration is thinking how to fulfil the needs of the ‘extra’ students this year. S Rajakumar, block education officer of Sira, said that the school has taken steps to become a model school in all of Karnataka. The Department of Public Instruction has permitted the opening of kindergarten classes while the English medium education too proves to be an agent of attraction.
There have been challenges too. But the school has overcome difficult situations with the help of donors. The donors, local community and well-wishers have supported the school committee to strengthen its resources. Some such works that are done collaboratively include the facilities required for kindergarten classes, appointment of new teachers for vacant posts, and development of infrastructure like classrooms.
Mallesh, the president of the school development committee, said the focus is on giving free but excellent education to children in the rural areas. In the midst of all this, more and more people are keen on enrolling their kids in this school, some of them coming from 10 to 12 km away. Their decision to shift their wards from private to this government school hopes to prove worthwhile, all of which is dependent on the quality of the education the school continues to give.
(Translated by Chitra Phalguni)