Exceptions apart, government schools across the country lay in an abysmal state. Quality education is often associated with private schools which, more often than not, charge an outrageous amount of fees. Parents often stretch beyond their financial capacity to somehow get their kids enrolled in such schools believing this would ensure them a promising future. Families, where education is not a necessity but rather a luxury, send their children to government schools where facilities are extremely limited.
A group of youngsters, led by social entrepreneur Mr Anil Shetty, in Karnataka have come together to change the status quo. Under their Save Government Schools initiative, they are working for absolute upgradation, not just in terms of infrastructure, but also in terms of the quality of education imparted. One of their major aims through this initiative is that children coming from even privileged backgrounds should aspire to study in such government schools.
The #SaveGovtSchools movement is a statewide campaign in Karnataka. It began in July. The initiative asks for the formulation of a new comprehensive state education policy demanding free and quality education for all at every state-run government school till 12th standard and for girls an additional 12+3. Interestingly, as there are premier institutes like IITs and IIMs for engineering and management studies, this initiative also seeks for the formation of similar institute-IIEd (Indian Institute of Education). This IIEd is supposed to be a premier world-class teacher training institute.
Interestingly, under this campaign, “give a missed call” initiative has also been started. Just by giving a miss call people are encouraged to pledge support for the aforementioned state education policy. Till now, over 2,00,000 people have pledged their support. The initiative is also having several governmental interactions to give a boost to what can now be called a state-wide movement. The movement also building up a base of a whooping one million volunteers who would be overlooking the development work at about 50,000 government schools in the state. These volunteers will also be entrusted with making sure that the policies and schemes meant for these schools actually reach them.
Pranitha Subhash, a Kannadathi and popular actress, who has several acclaimed films across Kannada, Telugu and Tamil industries is the ambassador of this initiative. Understanding that her being a public figure will give a boost to noble initiative like this, she has adopted a government school in Hassan, Karnataka, and further overlooks the development work at 10 other government schools under this initiative. For Pranitha, education of children has been one of the closest issues to her heart. This is not the first time she finds herself associated with this cause. Previously, she has volunteered to teach at a government school in Bengaluru. The experience of it exposed her to the sad state of education at these government schools. Determined to do something in her capacity about this, she joined hands with the Save Government Schools initiative.
While speaking with The Logical Indian, Pranitha said, “Both of my parents have been educated in government schools. They are doctors now and have become extremely respected figures in society. This goes on to show that whether private schools or government schools, both have a pool of talented students. What differs is the kind of support and assistance they get. I feel that if provided with facilities at par with private schools, students in these government schools can do wonders.”
An initial inspection of the Government Primary School, Balagattu Grama, Hassan, the one Pranitha has adopted, revealed to her and the team that one of the first works that needed to be done was to provide for a proper water system. Earlier, the students were forced to walk distances to fetch water for their basic needs. Next came the complete revamp of the school infrastructure. “I adopted the school in October last year. It has been about five months and we are seeing considerable differences. We have even gotten on-board an English teacher. In near future, we also plan on getting educational aides like smart classrooms, laboratories for enhanced learning etc.,” said Pranitha. Pranitha also tells that not just the students, but the teachers and the headmaster are equally excited for the positive change. They expect that with this, more students would enrol in the school.
The Logical Indian Take
In 2017-18, the Budgeted Estimate for education was at Rs 20,008 crore for Karnataka. In the recently announced 2018-19 budget, the Budgeted Estimate is Rs 26,001 crore. With about 30% increase in the budget allocation, one expects to see a significant change. While that might take some time, what these group of youngsters are doing is undeniably amazing. Our children are our future and it remains our utmost duty to ensure that every resource is provided for them to evolve into the best version of themselves and become an asset to the whole of mankind.