The school constructed by the great social reformer, Kandukuri Veeresalingam Pantulu, will be turning 100 this Sunday. But as is the case with many other old structures in the State, the school now needs immediate attention.

In 1907, Kandukuri shifted to Rajahmundry from Madras to run his Satyavadini magazine when the idea of starting a high school struck him. He approached the doyen of Telugu literature Chilakamarti Lakshmi Narasimham, who was already running an upper primary school from a private building. Chilakamarti readily agreed to the proposal of upgrading the school and both wrote to then British Regional Education Officer Lord Hunter for permission. At that time there were two high schools in the town -- Christian Missionary School and Training College School.

After obtaining permission, Kandukuri started the high school in a rented building and ran it for three years. The expenditure for this period came to Rs.300.

According to P.V.B. Sanjeeva Rao, who has done extensive research on Kandukuri, the idea behind starting the school was to bring education within the reach of girls and Dalits. In 1911, he acquired six acres of land for Rs.1,200 to construct new buildings. But there was a hitch. At Innispeta, where he wanted to build the school, he could get only one acre. The remaining land was on the other side of the railway track.

Kandukuri then sold the five acres and purchased 5,000 square yards. The total cost of construction came to Rs.60,000 and the Maharaja of Pithapuram, in response to Kandukuri's plea, paid the bill. The building was inaugurated on November 27, 1911 and came to be known as Veeresalingam Theistic High School.

After the Hitakarini Samajam took over the schoolthe situation turned worse in the 80s with the government stopping aid and banning fresh recruitments. The Hitakarini Educational Institutions were taken over by the Endowments Department. “We are not in a position to pay salaries to staff. For repairs and renovation, we are appealing to philanthropists to donate,” said Buddiga Srinivas, chairman of Hitakarini Samajam.