A school that started a year before India got its independence has been shut down for the last five years, thanks to the government “transfers.”
Founded in 1946 in a small house, the Government Higher Primary School at Venkatipete village in Belur Taluk, Hassan district, was shifted to own building in 1957. From its inception, the school was a beacon of light for more than 10 villages nearby for seven decades and provided education to thousands of students.
In 2014, the government decided to close it despite the fact that 23 students were enrolled in the school. Villagers said they were forced to take the transfer certificate of their wards as the government started shifting the teachers to other schools.
“A teacher who worked hard for 14 years and built a healthy environment was transferred all of a sudden. The new teacher was irregular and developed differences with the headmaster and the colleagues. As the quality of education sufferred, we decided to enroll our children at nearby private schools,” villagers said.
Consequently, the school building built in 1957 has now become a cattleshed.
“Several children who studied in this school are well settled, with many of them joining government service or IT professions. I chose to stay in the village and take up farming. I pass the school building every day and it pains me to see the pathetic condition of the building where we studied,” said Ramesh, an alumnus.
Interestingly, a few years before the government put the final nail, villagers had collectively bought about four acres of land and registered it in the name of the school to construct a new building and playground.
“The school was closed down in 2014. Though we gave land, the government decided to shut it down. Unfortunately, local officials of the Department of Public Instructions made no effort to save the school,” villagers rued.
Now, students from over 10 villages are forced to travel to private schools located far away as the government has not made an alternative arrangement.
Though officials from the state department of public instructions claimed that the school was closed down due to shortage of students, teachers working in the school said there were 23 children on the rolls when its doors were shut.
When contacted, Shakir Ali Khan, Block Education Officer, Belur taluk, said, “The school was closed down due to lack of students almost five years ago. The officers have communicated the same to the government.”