Children with neatly combed hair, clean uniforms and polished shoes running to a school with smiles on their faces carrying school bags that are not so heavy. Seems like a movie. Indeed.

Welcome to the set for the shooting of a video of ‘Shikshanave Shakthi’ at the Kuvempu Centenary Model Government Primary school at Ullal Upanagar on Friday.

‘Power Star’ Puneet Rajkumar is the ambassador for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan to raise awareness about the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act 2009.

The Education Department decided to launch a campaign consisting of videos and print ads featuring Mr. Puneet and Radhika Pandit after it turned out that awareness about the Act has not yet reached all corners of the State.

While the videos will be aired in all popular channels, the print ads will appear in newspapers by October or November.

Dressed in a crisp khadi kurta, Mr. Puneet is ready for the shot. As the camera rolls, school children lift their hands, scream and head to classrooms. Pointing out to the children, he is ready to deliver his dialogues.

As he looks at the camera, the actor fumbles and the director calls for another shot.

The children run back to their original place and the drill continues four more times.

Tired after the shoot, Tilak E., a Class 5 student takes a deep breath and says, “I am tired. I had to run again and again because Puneet sir forgot his dialogues. Normally I do not get tired, but the shoes that they have given me today are very tight.”

Although, he had run up and down several times, Tilak is content with the tiny role he has in the film and says, “ I am very happy that I am in a film with Puneet sir. I am a great fan of his.”

Maya Chandra, the director of the film, explains that the videos have been set in a natural environment and the script has been written in simple and colloquial language to ensure that the message of free and compulsory education reaches people of every language and culture.

“We want to raise awareness about the Act and hope that this campaign will help increase the enrolments in schools.”

Taking a break in between the shoot, Mr. Puneet candidly admits that he is yet to learn the nitty-gritties of the act.

“Through the film I want to spread a message and urge parents to immediately enrol their children to the neighbourhood school,” he added.

Monitoring attendance

Meanwhile, D. Basavraj, Director, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, said that education coordinators working in the office of the Block Education Officer would monitor and scrutinise attendance of students to ensure that there are no dropouts.

The decision comes in the wake of the State government’s move to revise the definition of school dropouts. The government has decided to change the duration of school dropouts from 60 days of continuous absence to a child who does not attend school for more than seven days without prior permission.

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