Fondly called ‘Tatayya mastaru', he has been running a school for them for some four decades
He is neither a politician nor a wealthy man. But he wields lot of influence. All those who come in contact with him hold him in high esteem.
Meet Pilla Thatayyalu, 54. Clad in his trade mark white pant and shirt, the barefooted electrician is from a fishermen community. He was unable tocomplete his studies due to financial constraints which gave him the motivation to teach children from his community during the evening hours from August 28, 1972.
With the fear that he may lose his commitment, he has remained unmarried. And for the past four decades or so, he has been running the school by spending his earnings from his profession as an electrician.
Now the school has 110 students with six teachers including Thattayylu – all from the fishermen community. “From my experience, I found that men and women in fishing community don't find time and money to send their wards for tuitions. Most of the time, the men will be away on voyage. Keeping this in view, I started the school even when I was a student of seventh class,” he told The Hindu.
The school was started by Thattayylu at Ramalayam, Jalaripeta along with 11 of his friends. Fondly called by his students as a ‘Tatayya mastaru,' the unsung hero has named it Sriram Night School. Now it has moved to GVMC Community Hall at Kothajalaripeta. The classes are conducted from 6 to 8.30 p.m from Monday to Saturday.
Mr. Thattayylu could not study beyond 10th class and learnt electrical works on his own. “I have no regrets for whatever has happened to me. The smile I see on the faces of my students and their parents is the biggest reward for me,” he said. Some of his students are now in a decent position. Some of them have become engineers. “I owe my success in life to Tatayya mastaru. It is he who gave me the confidence and knowledge to come out with success,” declared Ch. Ramakrishna, his former student. A double graduate, Ramakrishna works as a technical assistant at Naval Science and Technological Laboratory.
The former students also offer their service to teach occasionally. ARDEE Trust contributes significantly for evening snacks to the students and meeting part of incidental expenses for running the school.
The students are also taught Bhagavad Gita and Sanskrit slokas. The teachers - all from poor families are given honorarium. “He is rendering a yeoman service in this age where education is considered the best investment,” remarked N. Mutyalu, a retired employee of Visakhapatnam Port.