Children in bright uniforms welcome us with a broad smile and the school teachers led by the headmaster greet us with gratitude as we step into the Government Higher Primary School (GHPS) at Yaluvahalli village in Bangarapet taluk, Kolar town, 90 km east of Bengaluru.
From a state of dire neglect to a freshly-painted, new gleaming look with colourful play equipment, beautiful sketches of flora and fauna on the walls, and inspirational messages, proverbs on slates in the classes, “now we have a school that is the pride of the village. We owe it to Rotary for giving us a new confidence,” said M Amarnath, headmaster, GHPS. This school is one of the beneficiaries of the 125 Happy Schools and Anganwadi Project of RC Bangalore Orchards, RID 3190.
“We have planted crotons and select trees on the campus, refurbished the classrooms and renovated the toilets with steel doors and new tiles,” said Prakash Hegde, Project Co-chair and past president of the club. Each of the five taluks, chosen for the project in Kolar district, had around 20–30 schools for Rotary makeover and anganwadis (child care centre under the ICDS programme) were also given a facelift.
The GHPS had 42 students with 22 girls studying up to Class 7. A handwash station was installed to ensure better hygiene among students and a water filter unit with a 100-litre storage container keeps providing fresh, clean water to the students.
Karnataka government’s Nali Kali (play while learning) is being showcased here with five colourful, short round tables that enable children (up to Class 3) to sketch, draw and create paper craft, thus giving wings to their imagination, said Hegde. In the last 25 years, this school had never seen such a massive revamp of its infrastructure as “more than 90 per cent of the government spend for primary education goes towards salaries and we have changed all that with a complete makeover,” said D Ravishankar, past president, RC Bangalore Orchards.
A Kannada medium and Urdu schools are located on the campus of GHPS at Ithandahalli village with teachers and students hailing from the two communities. Here too the entire plumbing lines and toilets were revamped, giving a beautiful ambience to the classes which have new teaching kits for interactive sessions. While the Kannada school has 36 students enrolled up to Class 7, the Urdu school has 12 children till Class 5. “The Ganapathy shrine in the middle of the campus links the two schools, thus telling us symbolically to live in harmony,” said B Chandraiah, the headmaster.
M L Nagalakshmi and S Farzana, two teachers, said Rotary has brought facilities that encouraged them to take up classroom activities in a fun-filled and interesting manner.
At the anganwadi located at the GHPS, Mallasandra, the children were delighted that their creche had got a new makeover. “We have relaid the tiles, given a facelift to the hall, renovated the toilets as well as the kitchen,” said Hegde.
By June-end, the club had completed the pending work in the remaining 10 schools in Kolar district. “On an average, each school costs ₹4.5 lakh excluding major capital work. Hence, the overall project cost works out to ₹5.62 crore,” said Ramesh Chari, a club member. About ₹70,000 were spent on each anganwadi, and the club has taken up 80 anganwadis in Kolar district for a makeover.
The 125 Happy Schools project had a seed funding of ₹1 crore from the Paola Dakoju Ravishankar Foundation and the balance was mobilised through donations from Rotarians either in cash or kind. Moreover, Ravishankar is also funding the construction of a government primary and secondary school which will have Kannada and Tamil mediums at Vasanth Nagar in Bengaluru at a cost of ₹5.5 crore. “We are happy to inform you that the club has exceeded the target by completing 126 Happy Schools and 40 anganwadis, besides revamping 115 Nali Kali schools in the Kolar district,” signs off PDG Suresh Hari.
Pictures by V Muthukumaran