Mr. Srinivasa K, Chairman of M.V.M Central School hails from a farming community in Kannamangala, a village In Devanahalli Taluk. Having grown up in abject poverty, school was a luxury and a welcome alternative to unending household chores, including cattle rearing.
The government primary school with classes from standard 1 to 4 was the only school in the vicinity. The nearest middle school from grade 5 to 7 was 5 km away and the nearest high school up to grade 10 was 7 km away in Devanahalli. From Kannamangala village, the only mode of transport for them was by foot. Like most children of the village, Mr. Srinivasa also completed SSLC bearing all this hardship. His childhood struggle for education, a fundamental right, is what prompted Mr. Srinivasa to venture into the education field. His sole objective was to provide quality education to rural children, especially of Kannamangala village. Today, his ambition is to extend education to the surrounding villages as well.
Another reason further strengthened his resolve to make education accessible to rural children. In the 1980s, the neighboring village of Sadahalli was a gold mine for gray granite and thus the town was a haven for mining giants. Girl children from Kannamangala had to go to Sadahalli for schooling. Between the two villages, there was only a narrow footway amidst thick forestland. The young girls who took this path everyday were most often victims to the prying eyes of these granite landlords and their kin. The trauma that these girls experienced had left an indelible impression on Mr. Srinivasa.
Thus, the primary objective of providing quality education in a safe and nurturing environment to rural children is the driving passion that has translated into 2 schools, the MVM Public School and MVM Central School, providing education to over 2500 students.
We started our first school in 1993 with 22 children and Rs. 40 as fees. However, this path to success has not been an easy one, nor is it still. Up to 2003 we were steeped in financial crisis. In 2003, I retired from my job in Astra Zeneca and invested all my savings, PF, etc. into my school. Since then, there has been no looking back. We improved infrastructure. That year, we were able to attract 140 children, with a fee of Rs. 70 a month. In 2008-2009 we started MVM Central School in interior Aluru, Duddanahalli, which is my mother's birthplace. We started with 320 children and today the strength is around 1000 children. Today there are two schools under the Sri Maruthi Education Trust umbrella.
We have gradually enhanced the infrastructure with labs, library, playground, smart classes. We are gearing up for the silver jubilee celebrations next year.
Children in the age group of Three to Six years are very receptive. It is a period of rapid brain development. As we all know mending a grown tree is far more difficult than shaping and molding a sapling. We are trying to adopt a scientific approach to primary education so the rural children are exposed to the best pedagogical practices, which will pave the way for their holistic development.
Our objective is to nurture our rural citizens to be no different from their urban counterparts. Education is the one tool that can bridge the gap in very qualitative terms. It is the true mode of empowering rural children. Besides, education for rural girl children is important because they are twice as much susceptible to exploitation of various kinds. So we are also ensuring gender equality through education.
Rural children are academically on par with children from any city or international schools. The only point of contention is their poor communication skills. The root cause is that language learning is neglected in the pre and primary school years. Hence, we are investing on a language lab, equipped with relevant books, a wide array of worksheets, effective teaching tools and equipment, and more importantly, different and innovative methodologies of teaching. During these years, children have a natural flair to pick up languages. Once rural children learn English and are able to communicate well, their self-confidence and self-esteem will automatically increase.
Many parents either do not appreciate the importance of education or have unrealistic expectations from educational institutions. During the initial years, we had to go from house to house educating parents so they would send their children to school. At the other end of the spectrum, we have parents who believe teachers have a magic wand with which they can make their children geniuses. They do not realize that home is also the place where children must be groomed, disciplined and taught. Besides, parents are carried away by glamour—an attractive building, smart uniform, the status associated with CBSE and ICSE boards. They have little interest in what happens inside the classroom, or what the child is actually learning.
Another challenge we face is with respect to teachers. It is very difficult to find teachers who are good in subject matter and communication. Attrition rates are very high. Teachers themselves are sometimes not motivated towards self-improvement.
We are providing many avenues for self-development of teachers through training in technology, language and communication, subject matter, soft-skills to name a few.
The schools have progressed under the able leadership, vision and dedication of Smt. Radha Srinivasa, the Secretary of the school, With over 15 years of teaching experience in the government school in Kannamangala, she is trying to implement several qualitative measures to enhance the quality of education being imparted. "We are trying to give children a holistic learning experience through a balance of sports, arts and academics," says Smt. Radha.
Students interacting with Actor Ramesh Aravind during the event-R 360...1 Am Special
She has also researched and authored a work-book for Kannada learning for students from nursery to 7' grade, called Akshara Manjari, (On the lines of Kali Nali, published by the government and distributed only to government schools.) to aid rural children in non-government schools. "While many text-book uTp aDoae) publishers are constantly bringing out workbooks for English language learning and core subject learning, I noticed a dearth of ° workbooks for Kannada learning. Besides, in our schools all three languages are being given equal importance," she explains. The book is minimally priced but rich in content. Even as she manages the nitty-gritty of running an educational institution, she also involves herself at the grassroots, going from class to class everyday to encourage and support teachers in their task."My vision for the future is to spread education to a larger rural population by establishing more schools. In the existing schools, I am focusing on enhancing the quality of education. I am no more interested in increasing the number, " she shares.