Vishwanath Poojary, the in-charge headmaster of Government Higher Primary Hindustani School at Nagur village in Udupi district, was distraught when his school, once teeming with nearly 400 students, came down to having just 20 this year.
He thought of a novel idea to get more children — paint the entire school to resemble a train. Ever since, his school has been attracting a lot of visitors, if not more students as yet. Many old students and local people are also donating money for better school infrastructure.
This school was established in 1973. In addition to subjects taught in Kannada, Urdu is also taught here. It has three teachers, including Mr. Poojary.
He started this initiative by saving ₹3,000 from his salary every month. After a year, this January, the amount saved was ₹36,000. “I read on the web about a school in Kerala that had been painted as a train, and it had attracted attention. I thought we too should give it a try,” Mr. Poojary told The Hindu .
He shared his idea with some teachers and others, who agreed that this might help. The exercise began on January 15, and was completed by January 25. “I took the help of an art teacher, Badiger, from Government Junior College, Uppunda, and Somashekhar, a teacher from Government School, Aroor, and a student, Girish.
“The painting was done from 5.30 p.m. to 10.30 p.m. We managed it in ₹36,000, because everyone volunteered,” Mr. Poojary said.
The effort was noticed by alumni, parents and local people. Some former students and a Begaluru-based foundation donated an e-learning kit worth ₹70,000. One old student donated a water purifier unit of ₹13,000. Some others got the toilet repaired. “We never expected such fast results,” he said.
During the 10 days when the school was being painted, nearly 300 people used to visit the school to take selfie. Now that has come down to a dozen a day.
“Elected representatives have visited our school and promised to do what they can. With the buzz all around, and the facilities we have, we hope to attract more students next academic year,” he said.
Chandra Naik, Assistant Project Coordinator of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, lauded the attempt by the school. “It will not only attract more students but also provide a joyful learning experience. The school building itself will act as a learning tool,” he said.