Classrooms turn classical in Karkala

Classrooms turn classical in Karkala

A kuteera

Students in select schools in Karkala taluk, Udupi district take learning out of their classrooms every day for an hour. 

That’s only because they learn in another nature-friendly setting — in kuteeras. Fashioned after the ancient education system of gurukula, these kuteeras or huts are built of grass, coconut leaves, arecanut wood and bamboo within the premises of 13 schools.

Without the aid of blackboards, students from Class 1 to 7 engage in oral lessons about historical and traditional India, and indulge in arts and craft.

They familiarise themselves with the olden ways through the folk objects displayed like lanterns and akki mudi (hay silos).

The set-up

Each kuteera can accommodate 50 students. The floors are slathered and cleaned with cow dung. Students use areca nut leaf as floor mattress. Drinking water takes the shape of the mud pot placed inside every kuteera. While they are roofed over with tarpaulin, their walls are decorated with Warli art that depict Tulunadu’s culture.

The huts take the names Kavi Muddana, Nalanda, Panchavati, Vikramashila, Varna Vatika etc. “Kuteeras are built using naturally available material. The purpose is to familiarise students with nature,” says Santhosh Kumar Shetty, Block Resource Person, Karkala.

These classrooms are introduced as part of the ‘Swarna Karkala, Swacha Karkala’ project that began in 2019.

“Our education system has its root in gurukula system. Modernity has deprived students of this. Mahatma Gandhi’s concept of moola shikshana (basic education) is the focus of this project. Vocational education is imparted here, too. Indigenous crafts like basket-weaving and mat-weaving are taught here,” said Shashidhar G S, Block Education Officer, Karkala, whose brainchild this project is.

On bag-less days like Saturday, students craft broomsticks, then put to use in the schools. The ‘Gubbachi Speaking’ English course taught there has led to a rise in admission.

The kuteeras are funded by the locals, and each one costs anything between Rs 2,000 and Rs 10,000. The School Development and Monitoring Committee has invested in them, too.

Some kuteeras were built by the self-help groups and yuvaka mandals during summer holidays. A total of 31 schools have been chosen for this project. In 12 schools, kuteeras are under construction.

“We have introduced it on an experimental basis. Based on the admission rate in the next academic year, which can indicate the success of this project, we will include more schools,” added Shashidhar.

In attendance

The Lokapriya Kuteera is bigger than the ones at other schools. Mainly, Tulu paddana (ballads) are taught here by the local resource person Gulabi Acharya.

‘Gubbachi Speaking’, a spoken English course for Classes I to V, which was introduced in 2019, is conducted here.

“Since it is an open space, students enjoy sitting there. The cooling effect is another reason,” says Asha, a teacher at the government higher primary school in Mundli.

“It would be much better if the entire school is built like a kuteera,” says Swathi, a class VII student at the Kairabettu government primary school. For parent Chandrahasa Naik of Kalya, this initiative is great as it creates environmental awareness among children.


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