Hopes built from distant corners

Ramapura school before

Just flip the question on ways to improve our education system and we can get a list of suggestions like the institution should impart education in English medium, exam system should be scrapped off, value-based education and free education must be provided and so on. Among these, providing proper infrastructure and learning ambience take the bottom shelf.

However, natives of Karnataka living in the US have come together to form a non-profit organisation under the name ‘One School At A Time’ (OSAAT) to provide good infrastructure at schools as well as to bring a series of changes in the education system.

The organisation has been working to provide basic facilities to the underprivileged schools across the state. Over the past 15 years, this organisation has helped in rebuilding 25 school buildings and
other amenities. 

Its mission has spread from schools in Tungabhadra village in Raichur district to schools in Mysuru and Chamarajanagar districts. While 24 schools have started functioning in the buildings provided by the organisation, another school building will be ready by June. In the future, the organisation plans to renovate six more schools.

Beyond boundaries

Though the organisation is based in America, the volunteers associated with it belong to the state. The volunteers have not limited their work to Karnataka, they have worked in many parts of India and till now, have rebuilt schools in Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Manipur and Maharashtra as well.

One unit of the organisation is active in Bengaluru and looks after the school work in Karnataka. 

The group comprises IT professionals, architects, chartered accountants, civil engineers, educationists and others. Once they receive an appeal for help from a school, the volunteers review it. 

Then a team of experts from the group visits the place. They check documents related to the school property and estimates the cost needed for reconstruction of the school building.

It also reviews the attendance of students and the teaching quality in that school. The team also ensures that schools cooperate in getting the necessary permission from local bodies and take responsibility for maintaining the building once it is built. They go ahead only after all their parameters are satisfied.

In the next phase, a plan to rebuild the school building is prepared. They then approach donors and explain to them the need for the school building and their ideas about the proposed building.

Once the cost factor is worked out, they hand over the civil work to a local contractor. But this is not the end, the team constantly monitors the construction work by visiting the site and gives priority to quality construction.

“Students, along with values, need a suitable learning atmosphere. It is only then the system of education will begin transforming. This learning atmosphere can be created by rebuilding the school which is not in good condition. Our objective is to motivate children to study in a better way by providing proper infrastructure,” says Vadiraj Bhat of OSAAT.

The members of OSAAT are of the view that media motivated them to take up the work of improving the conditions of the schools.

Funds for continuity

The members of the Kannada Sangha of America organise a programme called ‘Natya Ranga’ every year. Dance, music, talent shows, food festival and other programmes are hosted as part of this event. Donor passes to this event generate funds and this is used by OSAAT to rebuild schools.

Sometimes, the Kannada organisations in America adopt the schools and ensure that they are renovated completely. In some cases, a single donor has contributed the entire amount needed for the renovation, inspired by the dedication and commitment of OSAAT volunteers.

Donors and volunteers interested in working with them can get more information at www.osaat.org

(Translated by Divyashri Mudakavi)

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