Each student of Gunukulakunta village walks 12 km a day

What is required to complete high school education? If you ask the children of this tanda located in Narayanakhed mandal of Medak district, their answer will be to have enough strength to walk a long distance carrying a heavy bag of books!

Surprised? Believe it or not- as many as eight students of this village have walked more than 10,000 km each in the past five years to complete their studies from class VI to class X.

“Even if it rains, we have no choice but to walk from our village to Hanmantharaopet where our high school is. If not, we have to drop out from the school,” says Gunukula Teja, a student from the village waiting for her 10th results. G. Narasimhulu and N. Raju, who are her classmates, say that they have to walk 12 km (to and fro) every day to go to school. It takes about two hours to reach the school and return home.

“Our school works 220 days a year and we all attend school except for 20 days on an average. This amounts to 2,400 km a year and more than 10,000 km in the past five years,” says Narasimhulu. Not able to cope with the burden, just two months before the examination, Narasimhulu’s father bought him a bicycle so that he can attend special classes in the morning and evening.

“We have forced our elder daughter Papamma (senior) to discontinue education three years ago as we felt it will be difficult for her to walk that distance. But our second daughter Papamma (junior) is continuing her education and now entering 10th class. We get anxious every day till she returns home safely,” said Shantamma.

G. Krishna Reddy, father of Pavani, a first year degree student at Narayanakhed, has been on the edge for two years. Pavani is forced to walk four km every day (to and fro) among the fields to attend classes at Peddashankarampet.

“We are worried about her safety as she has to walk through the fields to reach the college. Now she is reluctant to continue education,” he says.

“Walking alone amidst the fields every day is dangerous and I am thinking of discontinuing my education,” says Pavani.

“The figures speak volumes about the hardships faced by the students. We have never come across these facts though we have been working in the grassroots level for the past one-and-a-half decade,” admits Ch. Mohan, founder of Sadhana, an NGO working on child rights.