No school will disintegrate if there is constant intervention of parents in its matters, says a teacher.
With hardly any new admission to its first standard, Government Upper Primary School at Vellayil West could have died a natural death a few years ago before it turned 150 years old this year. But a group of people, including some teachers and local social workers, wanted for the school a different fate. They longed that the learning centre, started in 1863, to live on. They knew that it was not an easy task but that didn’t stop them from doing the hard work, which has begun to bear fruit now.
After four years, five students have joined the first standard of the school this year. “It’s a new beginning for us and we are hoping to make the most of this opportunity,” says K. Raghunathan, headmaster of the school.
A sepia-toned photograph hanging on the wall of the headmaster’s office has vivid stories to tell about the past glory of the school. There are as many as 40 staff members featuring in the snap taken during a send-off party given to the retiring headmaster of the school in 1976. “One can easily imagine the number of students at that time,” says Mr. Raghunathan. The school has four staff members, including a peon, at present.
The decline of the school was a gradual one, says K.K. Raghunathan, a senior teacher. The mushrooming of private and aided English medium schools and the lack of timely intervention from the part of the authorities, including the Parent-Teacher Association, were said to be the reasons behind the fall.
The efforts to give a rebirth to the school had started several years ago. A collective comprising Kudumbasree workers, parents, teachers as well as the ward councillor conducted several rounds of house visits, discussions and meetings with different stakeholders.
According to Mr. Raghunathan, the most important question was whether to continue or to close down the school. “At the end of the discussions, we decided against the closure and that left us with a herculean task in hand,” said the teacher. The decision was followed by several activities, including the launch of a campaign titled ‘Unaravu’ to attract fresh students to the school and setting up of an alumni association last year. A decision to start a pre-primary section for the school was also taken.
Five students joined the pre-primary section of the school in its inaugural year in 2012. “This year we could get 25 new students to our LKG class,” he said.
From the total number of 10 last year, the school, which will soon add an SSA-funded new building to its facilities, has grown its strength to 41 this year.
Mr. Raghunathan, who was in the forefront of all efforts to revive the school, says that no school will die or disintegrate if there is constant intervention of parents in its matters. According to K. Abdurahiman, Ward Development Committee convener, the PTA has resolved to give all support to the revival initiatives of the school. “After hitting the rock bottom, we are trying to resurrect and we need support from all quarters,” he said.
The school, which now sports a fresh look with painted walls and decorated premises, is hoping for a new dawn. “It’s overwhelming to see the school, which wore a vacant look several years, once again bustling with the cheering clamour of students,” said A.C. Elsy, a teacher retired from the school last year.