Whitefield Ready revives two Govt schools

BENGALURU: Ten-year-old Nikhil Gowda and sister Mithuna are among many kids who have left a private school to join the Government Higher Primary School in Ramagondanahalli, situated in the city’s IT hub of Whitefield.

The quaint government school, they say, is better than the private school where they studied until last year. “Things are free here -like milk and computers,” Nikhil says.

Enrolment in the Ramagondanahalli school has gone up 41% in the past three years. It is a similar story at the Government Higher Primary School in Nallurhalli, also in Whitefield. This bucks the trend across Karnataka where 2,958 government schools, which have less than ten students, face closure. As many as 207 schools in BENGALURU face a similar plight.

A 50-strong group called Whitefield Ready comprising professionals from all walks of life has transformed the Ramagondanahalli and Nallurhalli schools. The group’s volunteers not only teach English and mathematics but are also instrumental in getting corporates to fund infrastructure for these schools. “The perception is slowly changing and kids are gradually moving back from private schools,” said Sumedha Godkhindi, 43, who is leading the effort.

The two schools demonstrate just how a community can inject new life into government schools, which are often written off as substandard. Whitefield Ready facilitated the State Bank of India to fund a full fledged computer lab where children learn mathematics modules on Khan Academy, a popular online education content video platform. Xerox has funded toilets at the Nallurhalli school. More such funding is in the pipeline.

Uma Narayanan, who teaches English to Class 4 at the Ramagondanahalli school, believes that many fear volunteering for a government school because of the language barrier. “People don’t realise what they’re missing. I had a group of kids who became so attached to me that I had to start teaching another class,” she said.

A team of 60 volunteers from technology giant EMC teaches English comprehension at the Government High School in Varthur four days a week. Techie Shivakumar KR, who anchors this activity, found relevance in teaching when he realised his eldest child could read, write and do much more in Class 1 than a Class 8 student in this school. “This shakes you. And the excitement you see in a child who is learning is priceless.”

Suhas Nerurkar, an IITian who helped set up one of India’s first ATMs, teaches mathematics to Class 7 students. “That so many of us are doing this shows the government’s failure in running its own schools.”

Whitefield Ready recently adopted two more government schools at Siddapura and Immadihalli.

Credits Economic Times

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