Campaign calls for citizen action to save govt schools

A school with just 15 students in 2015 now has 500, thanks to the efforts of a support group

A campaign in Bengaluru is seeking to save government schools, many of which are on the verge of closure.

A political leader is spearheading it, with some singers and filmmakers supporting the cause. The campaigners released a ‘save government schools anthem’ in Kannada last week, performing it at an event on Church Street. It was sung by Vasu Dixit with music by Ricky Kej.

“My mother called me up and informed me about the shutting down of the government school I went to. The thought hit me hard and that is when I initiated this campaign. Coming from a government school, it is my responsibility to stand up for it,” says Anil Shetty, President of Nav Bharat Democratic Party.

Parents hesitate to send their kids to government schools fearing they won’t learn English. But not all is lost. A government school in Bantwal was adopted by a group called ‘Durga Friends’ in 2015. It had just 30 students in 2015, but the number has risen to 500 today, he says.

The campaign hopes to encourage more and more people to adopt govt schools. It is also seeking a new state education policy, and wants to know what is happening to generous grants allocated every year for government schools.

A draft education policy was prepared under the guidance of Biocon chairperson Kiran Mazumdar Shaw and former Infosys director Mohandas Pai and given to the government to debate in 2016. No discussion has taken place yet, Shetty told Metrolife.

Karnataka has 43,000 government schools with 47 lakh students, but about 5.6 lakh children drop out every year. The dropout rate is increasing every year, rues Shetty. 

As part of the campaign, Rishab Shetty’s film, ‘Sarkara Hiriya Prathamika Shaale’ was screened. The film is a take on a government school on the Karnataka-Kerala border. Most people involved in this campaign are unmarried or just married, says Shetty when asked if they would send their children to government schools.

Online help

A website ‘savegovtschools.org’ is expected to launch in two weeks. People can upload videos of deteriorating conditions at government schools. Campaigners will knock on the right doors to get the problems addressed. Each district, taluk and gram panchayat will have 10 volunteers to upload videos.

Moving spirit

Anil Shetty is a politician, entrepreneur, author and activist. He is the President of Nav Bharat Democratic Party, and recently spearheaded a campaign against illegal flex banners in the city.

 

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Campaign calls for citizen action to save govt schools

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