Whitefield residents collaborate to renovate a govt school

Pattandur Agrahara, an erstwhile village that came under BBMP ambit in 2007, is located in the shadows of International Tech Park Bangalore (ITPB). It has large plexi-glass office tech parks and office buildings on one side, and Whitefield’s oldest residential streets on the other. This area experiences all the challenges of an urban slum with immigrants (mostly construction labour) living in impoverished conditions. Their children see prosperity all around them and yet live in extreme poverty without access to clean water, adequate food or proper housing.

Background of the school

Until 2014, Pattandur Agrahara Government School was a dilapidated building with over a 100 children in Grades 1 to 5. In April 2015, a nine-year-old girl died after falling into the school sump; since then, attendance fell significantly. The school building had fallen into further disrepair and there was a fear that the school may be entirely shut down, forcing the parents to send their children to government schools far away or to expensive private schools.

Building renovation

This was the state in which Naveen Kumar Dahiya and other members of the Acharyas group found the school. Whitefield Rising CSR team worked with them and scouted around for companies who would take up this renovation project. In March 2016, a company agreed to support the project. They renovated the toilets, put in an RO water unit, water-proofed the roof to prevent seepage into classrooms, fixed broken walls, windows and doors, installed mosquito-proof mesh on all windows, painted the entire building, installed lights, fans and fixed the electrical wiring to the classrooms and corridors. They also transformed a room to be used as a computer lab. By providing overhead storage tanks for the bathrooms for running water, a connection for the RO drinking water unit and running water for the hand-wash facility, the need for children or teachers to use the water-sump room on a daily basis has been eliminated.

Repair of school wall

The compound wall was damaged or inadequate in several places to be able to prevent miscreants from entering the premises. The company raised the height, put in missing sections of the wall, installed barbed wire, and increased the height of the two gates. The wall and gates were painted. Several other issues were addressed in the school campus. The stage and flag-post area were improved. The Anganwadi building within the premises got new railings to prevent little children from falling off its high lobby area. This building was also painted.

A story of collaboration

The Block Education Officer (BEO), the local Corporator, and Whitefield Rising Champions Srinivas Reddy, Viji Vennelakanti and Sumedha Rao were involved in getting approvals, buy-in from neighbours, and guiding the project team through the process. The work was completed in June 2016; although there was no formal inauguration, children have started to trickle back to the school. The school enrolment has risen to over 85 children now. The NGO, Must Educate, is setting up a library at the school.

The Acharyas team conducted a base level ASER test that shows that only 13% of the children can read Kannada words and 30% can read English words. Almost none of the Grades 1 to 5 students could read an entire paragraph in English or Kannada. In Maths, most children could recognize two-digit numbers. None of the children could do a simple one-digit division.

Given this poor state of performance, this school needs a lot of intervention in the form of:

  • Sponsors for full-time enthusiastic teachers. The school currently has only one paid teacher for five grades.
  • Volunteers who can teach the children English, Kannada, Maths, Sports, Arts and Crafts, Health & Hygiene, Music, etc.
  • A sponsor to set up the computer lab with a teacher so that children could be exposed to self-learning software.

Credits Bangalore Citizen Matters

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