At the Government Lower Primary and Pre-Primary School, Kariyam, students learn karate and dance

A bunch of chirpy youngsters, students of the Government Lower Primary and Pre-Primary School, Kariyam, near Sreekariyam, are packing a punch, shouting with the effort, as their karate trainer, Y. Premkumar, puts them through the paces. They practise punches, kicks, blocks and stances for an hour or so, until their tiny bodies are drenched in sweat.

For the past two months now, school authorities have been oragnising karate lessons for the students. “We hold the classes every Tuesday and Thursday,” says S. Baby Girija, headmistress of the school.

She adds: “The fall in the number of students has been a matter of great concern over the last few years. We have just 60 students on the rolls. The school, though a lower primary school, has classes till standard five. We are thus looking for innovative ways to increase student strength. The karate class is one such step in that direction.”

In fact, from August last onwards the teachers of the school having been going to anganwadis and houses in the area in a bid to recruit new students.

“This academic year we have received 21 admissions in class one,” Girija says.

The karate classes were also started to impart a healthy lifestyle and to provide students with self-defence techniques.

“There is little opportunity for physical activity in many educational institutions, including government schools. Our students are provided breakfast and lunch, but little is being done to take care of their physical fitness. Also, many schools don’t have physical education teachers,” she adds.

The karate classes, are run with the support of IT company UST Global.

Meanwhile, the school is looking for a sponsor to provide karate uniforms for the students.

The school has also arranged for dance classes for the students with the support of the Parent-Teacher Association and School Management Committee.

“Students are involved in cultivating vegetables and many other activities on campus. Education is about all round development of a child and we are trying to do that with the limited resources we have,” says Girija.