Mangalore: Going to school is an uphill task

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The Hindu

Mangalore, 14 November 2011: Nikhil D’Souza and his brother Nitin; Trupti and her cousin Sahana, primary students all, trudge the one km stretch between home to school through dense forests and over hills. The are the only students at the Zilla Panchayat Lower Primary School at Jarpadav Mukadappu in Kadandale village.


Parents labourers

Their parents earn below Rs. 11,000 per month as agricultural labourers, the occupation of 60 per cent of 3,876 people in Kadandale.


The school appears to be in good condition, with 20 chairs and tables. It has a toilet and a water filter, but no taps. The water pump in the school has been defunct for two months. The children get “Bisi Oota” (a hot meal of rice, sambar with vegetables), which they like very much. Water is brought from a public pump for all their needs, with additional trips made when the school becomes a polling booth during elections.


All the repair work will be done once his training is over, says Raghavendra Bhat, teacher, who gets notebooks and occasionally vegetables for the children. One parent has spent prize money (from winning a cricket match) to build a flagpost for the school to fly the national flag, said Mr. Bhat. The school had six students last year and seven in 2009-10, five in 2008-09 and 23 in 2007. Next year, the fifth student (from the anganwadi) will join the school.


“Our aim is to avoid closing schools,” says Shivaprakash, Project Co-ordinator, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. The committees at zilla and distric’t levels will take a decision on 12 schools in the district “soon” on those with 1 to 5 students, he said.


Schools may be temporarily closed and restarted if five to 10 students join. A 2010-11 survey found that in two of 16 schools with below 10 students in Dakshina Kannada, the numbers increased from 10 to 14 in one year. Four of the other 14 schools had below five students. Three (two in Mangalore taluk, one in Puttur) were temporarily closed as there were no children. PB School in Kadandale continued.


Fewer children

There were 3,14,000 children in 6-14 age group in 2001-2002 in the district and 2,73,555 in 2010-11. “The number of our children is reducing, it is not just the pull of English medium schools,” says Mr. Shivaprakash. “Educated young men and women move away to other places,” says Sucharith Shetty, former zilla panchayat president, Dakshina Kannada district.



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