Funds remain a challenge for the Government PU College in Balmatta

The look, feel and even smell of antique is unmistakable – the beams bear the names of English companies that no more exist, the walls are three-foot wide, something uncommon in schools here, high tiled-roofs give a feeling of depth even in small classrooms, the safe is reinforced with cast iron, the cupboards are as old as the school and yet remain in pristine condition.

The institution that houses the Government Pre-University College (Girls) as well as the Primary, Secondary and Higher School in Balmatta, turns 100 leaving in its wake a rich architectural, cultural, and social legacy.

“This is a unique building,” said Vasudeva Kamath K, Principal of the PU College who had been a Social Science lecturer there for over 14 years. “The walls do not have cement. They are made entirely of limestone powder and stone, which makes it very sturdy. Apart from whitewash, we have hardly done any maintenance on the building,” he said.

While the oldest government primary school for girls in Dakshina Kannada district has a building that cannot be found elsewhere in the district, Mr. Rai said similar structures can be found in Coimbatore, erstwhile Cannanore (Kannur), and Calicut (Kozhikode), which were all established the same time when there was a push towards education in Madras Presidency. Having shifted to this building in 1912, with about 150 students between class 1 and 5, the group of institutions now houses 2,100 students from primary school level to undergraduate courses in Arts, Sciences, and Commerce. Though the red building in the centre remains, more recent buildings have come up around it as intake and number of courses increased.

The school hosts pictures of the first flag hoisting on August 15, 1947; while also storing documents of the role the school played during the second World War. “There was a Governor’s Fund then to collect funds for the war efforts. The children were asked to go out and collect money and this was made into a competition. The records of collections were bound as a book, and we have continued it even today, whether it was Kargil war or tsunami in 2004,” said Mr. Rai.

With the school having done little to celebrate its previous milestones, the Principal is keen to mark the centenary year in grandeur. “We plan to host cultural programmes for all 53 government colleges in the district. However, collecting funds are a problem,” he said. Although a website is slated to be launched soon, lack of funding is threatening the special issue of their college magazine and the whitewash of the college planned. Even expansion work on the college – adding four rooms and two laboratories – was stalled as the State government is yet to release funds.

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