'A village is no village without a school'
Date: Mon, 2011-11-14
he Government Lower Primary School with only six children at Chattanahalli, about 35 km from Channarayapatna, will be one among the first schools in the State to be closed, ironically, on Children's Day.
Contrary to the popularly-held belief, the dwindling numbers in this school has nothing to do with a preference for English medium private schools. There is not even one private school in or around the village. Here the reasons for a decline in admissions is the result of too many government schools in one area, alongside a declining population in villages.
Channarayapatna taluk is the first taluk in the State to merge schools with less than 10 students with nearby higher primary schools. There are 27 such schools in the taluk. The Department of Public Instruction has decided to merge Chattanahalli School with the Government Higher Primary School at Anathi, about 2 km from the village.
Around 35 backward class families, mostly dependent on agriculture, form the total population of 150 in Chattanahalli. When the school was sanctioned to the village in the 1990s, there was no school in the neighbouring B. Byrapura.
“In the initial years the strength was more than 20 as students of B. Byrapura also came here,” recalls P.T. Krishnappa, Cluster Resource Person (CRP), who was a teacher in the early 1990s in the school. The strength declined after the Government sanctioned a school in B. Byrapura in 1998. Last year there were nine children, and this year just six.
Till recently, Vatsala and J.V. Raveesh were teachers at the school. With the fall in admissions, Mr. Raveesh was recently deputed to a school at K. Byrapura.
At Chattanahalli school, there is only one classroom, in which students from I to V std sit on separate benches. Whenever the teacher goes on leave, another teacher from Higher Primary School in Anathi is asked to work there. Sujatha, a cook, prepares and serves midday meal.
The government recently took up construction of a toilet in the school at a cost of Rs 25,000 under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyana (SSA). “The toilet is ready to be opened for students,” says Harish, a Gram Panchayat member. This seems like a wasted expense considering that the school is set for closure.
Besides, the school has a playground spread over 44 guntas. “If the Government goes ahead with the merger, we will make use of the land for anganwadi, which now functions in a rented building. But, we urge the administration not to close it,” says Mr. Harish.
Sumathi, whose daughter studies in the school, says it would be difficult to send children to Anathi. The parents want their children be given education on a par with those in private schools. “We will provide shoes, belts and English books if necessary. Our children should not lag behind,” says another parent, Vishalamma.
For many people, a school in a village is an essential part of its very existence, no matter how many take admissions there. Nanjappa, an SDMC member puts the sentiment of the entire village in a nutshell: “A village is no village without a school.”Source: http://www.thehindu.com/news/states/karnataka/article2626261.ece