It takes a village, and a bridge, to save a school

Kadashettihalli is a hamlet in Amruthur hobli in Kunigal taluk of Tumakuru district, with a population of about 400.

It has a government school, which has been catering to the academic requirements of its residents since 1958.

It has a temple dedicated to the village goddess Daitya Maramma, and since October, 2008, a trust that aids development works.

However, a rivulet flowing down from Markonahalli Reservoir has an important role in the hamlet’s history...

The rivulet had, until recently, cut off Kadashettihalli from other villages. So, though Daitya Maramma was revered in the neighbouring Torehalli,the rivulet stopped its people from visiting the temple here.

This disconnet also consumed people’s time, energy and money during their visits to Amrathur and Nagamangala for routine work.

For the last 50 years, the villagers had been pleading elected representatives for a bridge for an easy commute. All pleas had fallen on deaf ears.

The most affected were children from the neighbouring villages who attended the primary school here. They had to travel 20 kilometres every day. Parents had to shell out more money due to this. Inconvenienced, they chose to send their children to better or English-medium schools.

Within a few years, the enrollment dipped to 6 from 70. Considering insufficient numbers, the Department of Public Instruction decided to shut down the school.  And then the situation began to change...

The school’s teachers proposed the idea of protecting the school to the trust members.

The trust formed a team. In an interaction, the teachers convinced the parents to send their kids to the government school, assuring them quality education, including imaprting English-language skills.

Changes

And the trust adopted the school on June 6, 2019. The first challenge was to construct a bridge across the rivulet, which would enable transportation. This united the residents of Kadashettihalli and Torehalli in spirit.

They vowed to construct the bridge spending money from their pockets and save the school. Many of them volunteered labour.

First, the dead stretch of one kilometre from the temple till the rivulet was structured as a road and then a bridge was built across.

The project needed more money still. At this stage, K G Srinivas, an industrialist and a social activist from Bengaluru, entered the scene. His father K G Govindappa hailed from Kadashettihalli, but Srinivas, having relocated to Bengaluru for a job long ago, had not revisited the hamlet. But, when he learned of the situation, he wanted to contribute. 

In a financial collaboration with the trust, he dived right in. Yet, time was running out as the monsoons were fast approaching. They had to construct the bridge before the rainfall. The construction of the bridge took off on July 7. The work was executed during night and day. A 200-feet-long bridge was ready by July 9.

About 100 villagers participated in the construction work, while Rs 4 lakh was spent on the project.

Cool again, the school

As promised, the trust ensured the three school sections ­— Nursery, Lower Kindergarten and Upper Kindergarten. To facilitate learning, the trust also appointed two teachers, donated uniforms, textbooks, furniture, computers, audiovisual systems, electronic gadgets and study materials to the library.

Books in English, Kannada, Hindi, drawing books, books on GK, grammar, communication were handed over to every student. Free transport facility was arranged.

To add value to the environs, a compound was constructed around the school. A toilet came up. Drinking water and electricity facilities were also provided.

A project was implemented for the beautification of school walls to arouse curiosity among its pupils. Online teaching was introduced.

According to Umesh G E, an assistant teacher, the trust revived the school which otherwise would have been history by now.

“The trust has given the school a new lease of life,” he says. The trust, he says, wants to make it a model for other schools.

Venkatesh, a Class 7 student, recalls, “I was afraid that I had to join a school unknown to me as there were hardly any students in my school. I thought that my school would shut down. Things changed after the trust adopted the school.”

Venkatesh says he comes from a poor family and hence his parents can’t afford a private school. So, “We all are happy as our school is thriving,” he says.

According to School Development Monitoring Committee President Yogesh, a decision was taken to hand over the school to the trust so that the move could help such students .

“The number of students at the school has now gone up to 70,” he says.

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