This 2nd week of July 2016 I had the unique privilege of visiting 4 government schools in Hyderabad. I visited several government schools in the past, but this time it is very special. These schools are supported by the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives of a major multinational that has a very strong community outreach programme. It is very heartwarming to note the generosity of the teachers and principals of these schools. I will cite a few examples.
In one school there is a CSR sponsored scholarship programme for the students passing out of the tenth class. Last year 10 students got selected and they received financial support for pursuing their 10+2 education. One student who was left out was in a big need for financial support. When all other doors were closed, the principal decided to support the student on her own. I found out that there is at least one such example of supporting needy children by the teachers or the principal of all the four schools.
One day, a principal of one of these schools met a local LED bulb supplier who happens to be a friend of a friend. She asked him if he can help in upgrading her school’s lighting system to an LED system. The businessman obliged with the support for the 20% of the need. With some effort from other sources another 60% of the requirement received financial support. When there was no one else to support the cost of the last 20%, the principal decided to finance it on her own. The school now runs on 100% LED lighting. In a similar vein she ensured that everyone of the classrooms is fitted with an appropriate number of fans that are in perfect working condition. This school sends its students to participate in sports tournaments at district, state and even national levels. They play kho kho, kabbaddi and volley ball.
The local MLA of one of the schools is its alumnus. This school implements some very unique programmes for its children. There is a school parliament that includes a health minister. Names of all the cabinet members are prominently displayed in the principal’s office. The saplings that were planted in the school has the names of the children who are expected to take care of them. During lunch we noticed that the children were diligently working on creating pathways for easy flow of water to these plants.
What is common to all these government schools?
Well, all the schools seem to have more girls than boys in almost all the classes. That is great news when it comes to empowerment of girls. Over 95% of the children in these schools are from SC, ST, BC and other minority communities. That is the real empowerment of the most needy classes of our society. The children are very bright and very enthusiastic to learn. These schools reflect the true spirit behind the implementation of the right to education act. Every one of these school principals do have a number of problems to discuss but they quickly turn to discuss positives more than the negatives. That is how optimism trumps pessimism!
We will be implementing some components of Sri Sathya Sai Vidya Vahini in these schools. This intervention is is designed for improving the academic standards and increasing the interest of the students in the subjects being taught. Our participation will try to find new solutions to the age old problem of education in government schools in India.
I am very excited and am looking forward to working with these four schools. This is especially because of the commitment and warm support from the teachers.