Government High School in Aroor is staring at empty benches, and consequently a near-terminal division fall. But adversity has brought together people who have the will power to get the school back in shape

Students, staff and teachers at the Government High School, Aroor, have set themselves a target. It is not an academic target of passing an examination, but a larger test that will put on trial the pluck and resolve of everyone involved.

There is a large group of people involved in saving the 139-year-old school, now facing serious depletion in student strength, and consequently a near-terminal division fall.

At the core of a campaign by public workers, political leaders, religious organisations and businessmen, is a no-holds-barred effort to get all the 27 students in Class X through next year’s public examinations.

“Once that is done we are sure more students will come to the school,” said A. M. Ariff, MLA, on why he took the initiative to launch mission ‘Target 100’ to ensure 100 per cent pass in the coming SSLC examinations. Students, who pass the School Leaving Certificate examination with A-Plus in all subjects have also been promised laptops.

The complexity of the problems involved was what prompted the mission mode approach, he said, pointing out that students at the Government High School came from poor backgrounds. They need government help in getting quality basic education.

One of the teachers at the school pointed to the difficult social and economic backgrounds from which these children were drawn.

The number of students at the school has now dropped to 123, excluding about a score of children in the recently launched nursery section. There are just seven students in Class I, a frightening omen for the school that once boasted of more than a thousand students and had classes in two shifts to decongest its one-acre campus adjacent to the famous Aroor temple on National Highway 47.

Narayanan Elayathu, whose grandfather Narayanan is reputed to have gifted the land for the school in 1874, recalled that the government school in Aroor was a glorious institution. He is an alumnus of the school, having studied there between 1948 and 1952. He went on to do an M.Sc. in Botany and retired from Government Victoria College, Palakkad, in 1988.

His senior at the school, Abdul Khader, who retired as a school teacher, said the Aroor government school, which was elevated to become a high school in 1975, was a great draw. Its competitors in its heydays included the St. Peter’s in Kumbalaghi; government school at Thrichattukulam, near Panavalli and, later, St. Augustine’s at Aroor.

A proliferation of public schools offering instructions in English medium is among the key issues facing government schools like the one now being helped out of oblivion.

The parents and teachers have had detailed discussions about the future of their school. Class X students are being given special coaching through extra and special classes. One of the teachers said the package of practices at the school now included classes every Saturday. The children will also be given sumptuous noonday meals.

While the noon-day meal scheme covers only children up to Class VIII, the PTA has been raising funds to bring all the children under the meal programme. They are not allowing anything to come in between them and the target they have set for themselves.

An extra hour of class each in the mornings and evenings are already on and night classes will see the coaching being intensified later in the year as the public examinations approach. Meanwhile, teachers will monitor the progress of their wards through fortnightly tests.

Help of experts have been enlisted to motivate students and a psychologist from the TD Medical College, Alappuzha, will be among the specialists meeting students and interacting with them in the coming months.

On the infrastructure front, Rs. 5 lakh has been sanctioned from the MLA fund for building the compound wall and for carrying out some badly needed repair works on the building that once used to have thatched roof.

But the school has not had had a full-time headmaster since early August, preventing the use of money sanctioned for various improvements.

Class X students have become serious partners in the mission their teachers and parents have undertaken.

Meanwhile, Yadukrishna, Akshay and their friends said they were determined to achieve what they have set out for.

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