Opening the vistas of learning

Kaliyuva Mane

Santhosh in Mysuru dropped out of school when he was 12. He was working in a tea shop. After a year, he thought of continuing his education. But what discouraged him was no school was ready to give him admission and he was not in a position to follow the curriculum along with other students. 

Challenges faced by another student Preetham were different. He got admission in one of the prestigious schools of the city under the Right To Education (RTE) Act. Every year, he used to get promoted to the next class. But though he had good IQ level, he was not able to read or write. He faced difficulties in following lessons taught in the school and was not able to perceive anything.

Srujan comes from a rural background. He changed three to four schools but is not able to get adjusted anywhere. Later, he developed a strange habit of boarding buses and moving to different places. Someone would hand to the police who in turn would send him back home. 

Innovative model

These are the profiles of a few students of Kaliyuva Mane, an innovative school model for ‘out-of-system’ children operated with the motto School for Children. This school, which is located in Kenchalagudu village on the outskirts of Mysuru, is unique for many reasons. It works with a vision of transforming these children into self-reliant citizens by giving them love, care, empathy and quality education.

Shashidhar, who is from an underprivileged family, completed his Class 8 before joining to Kaliyuva Mane. But he was unable to read first standard books. He was sent to the All India Institute of Speech and Hearing, Mysuru for assessment. There it was found that he was suffering from mild mental retardation with 50% intellectual disability. After a necessary intervention, he is appearing for Class 10 board examination as a Karnataka Open School candidate this year.

This school staff narrates a number of such stories about children who are deprived of education due to lack of schools and those who cannot cope with the current education system.

This free, child-centred alternative school is a dream of M R Ananth Kumar, who is an engineer by profession. “During evening hours, I used to conduct classes for students from economically poor families. Then I came across the problems faced by the students of deprived sections. I wanted to help them. Hence, I started ‘Kaliyuva Mane’ for such children in a small hut in Srirampura, Mysuru in 1992,” Kumar shares.

Later it received donations and was registered as ‘Divya Deepa Charitable Trust’.  The trust purchased land in Kenchalagudu and started Kaliyuva Mane. Initially, there were 14 children and now there are 88 studying in this school. It has been recognised as an informal school by the block education officer, and the students here directly appear for SSLC examination.

Ananth Kumar with his wife, employees and other volunteers conduct classes on different topics. Based on age, students are divided into different groups. ‘Here we give priority to activity-based teaching. Unlike mainstream schools, we follow our own timings. Sometimes, we teach even during the evening,” says Kumar.

When I visited the school, the students were busy with their preparation for the ‘Science Day’ with volunteers helping them out. Latha, 70, works as a volunteer in the school and teaches the craft. Sali, a retired teacher from England, works as a fundraiser and spends her vacation working as a volunteer here. 

Shankara, who works as a warden, is an alumnus of this school. After serving for a few years, he wants to become an entrepreneur. Mahesha D B, another alumnus of the school, has completed BBM and manages accounts in the school. A few old students of this school have completed ITI courses and some have enrolled for a degree or a diploma course. 

The school is built in an eco-friendly manner and it has adopted rainwater harvesting techniques, borewell recharging technology and solar power technology. Students are trained in animal husbandry, cooking, horticulture, craftwork and campus maintenance.

Kid’s bank

Financial management and savings is a unique concept introduced to students at Kaliyuva Mane. To make students aware of the functioning of a bank and understand the value of money, it started a bank, which works like a professional bank. At this bank, they have printed currency similar to real currency, cheque books, gift cheques, challan, passbook, etc. A monthly cheque will be given to every child to make their purchase like soap, pencil, sweetmeat, etc. Kaliyuva Mane follows a ‘reward system’ for students who are proactive and keep good conduct. 

To meet the growing needs of the students, the school hopes to develop into a complete residential school with a big dormitory for girls, with well-furnished rooms and other facilities.   

One can contact M R Ananth Kumar on 93413 69901.

(*Names of the students changed)

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Opening the vistas of learning

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