The school, which had a student strength of 129 when it reopened last year, has admitted over 350 now
The firm action by the district administration has given a new lease of life to 62-year-old Madura Labour Welfare Association Higher Secondary School which would have, otherwise, become history by now.
The administration’s decisiveness was matched with the hard labour by a dozen teachers, a determined alumni and a fighting citizen’s committee in giving a ray of hope for the resurrection of the school to its past glory.
The teachers could manage to admit only 129 students last year after a year-long closure of the school. But, now the concerted campaigning about the school by the teachers in elementary schools far and near and the publicity support given by Kalvi Pathugappu Iyakkam have seen the number of students in the school cross 350.
“More students have joined Class 9 this year. The number has gone up from 12 to 89 in two sections. Similarly, 136 students have paid the fees for Class 11. Last year, the admission to the class was 117,” Headmaster P.Selvaraju said. Similarly, last year the school admitted students only to Class 9 and Class 11. This year admissions have been made to Classes 10 and 12 as well.
“Though many parents were willing to admit their sons to Classes 6, 7 and 8, they wanted school-arranged transport facility,” Mr.Selvaraju said, adding the school could not meet their demand.
The tough task of attracting the students to the school was achieved by the teachers who offered a lot of freebies, thanks to the support extended by the Alumni Association. The Association promised to provide free notebooks, bags, stationery, one set of uniform and also hostel facility. The amount of their hard work was evident when 10 students from Alanganallur joined the school.
“Our teachers went to various schools and also spoke to parents. We explained to them that this is a government-aided school and they need not pay donation or exorbitant fee,” the Headmaster said.
The meagre amount of Rs.100 collected from them too goes to the Parents-Teachers Association, and for printing common entrance test question papers and the Flag Day collection.
“We did not want the parents to bear the burden of bus fare for their children till the free bus passes were issued. Hence, the Association has been paying them the bus fare since the school re-opened,” one of the alumni, M.Balachander, a civil engineer, said.
With a view to reviving the school, the Association has organised sports competition, elocution competition and cultural events and distributed prizes to the students. “The school attracts students mostly from Sellur, Thathaneri and Melaponnagaram. The people of these areas were aware of the closure of the school. But, not many know that the school has been re-opened. Hence, during the Chithirai festival, we organised a free buttermilk distribution centre on our premises, and we were able to reach out to hundreds of people,” Mr.Balachander said.
The Parents-Teachers Association is also planning to impart computer knowledge to the students and improve their English communication skill. “We have provided five high-end computers to the school. We are planning special coaching on the two skills so that the students, when they leave the school, will be better equipped to find jobs or to pursue higher education,” another alumnus, M.Ashok Raja, said.
For the school that has only 14 teachers, the special coaching will be of great help.
The alumni are also planning to distribute evening snacks to the students in Classes 10 and 12, who having been attending special coaching sessions. Besides one-hour special classes on working days, the school has organised special coaching for three hours on Saturdays.
The alumni feel that if one student emerged as a topper in the public examination this year, it will be a big boost to its efforts. “We will showcase the facilities available at the school to the students and teachers of other schools, so that next year we will be able to admit students to the other classes too,” he added with hope.