Udupi; Sept 15: As the proverb goes ‘Every dog has its own day’, now here in this case, it is the turn of English at the cost of Kannada.English has its own dominancy in all the schools and colleges now a day. Now it has become a fantasy, crazy to send the children to English medium schools despite how economic position of the parents. Yes it is true, time has transferred to modern era now.
But it is too heartening and irony to note that Kannada, a mother tongue of many, medium of instruction once it was and an official language of Karnataka State losing its prominence, charm and fading away as the days are passing.
Here in one case, Mahatma Gandhi Government Higher Primary (Kannada Medium) School-popularly known as ‘Main School’, one of the five oldest Schools in the city and located opposite Udupi City Municipal Council (CMC) office on Kavi Muddanna Road, established in 1885 is enjoying with hardly 122 migrant students, where the students strength used to be more than 300 students until a couple of decades ago.
Now four make-shift classrooms function from a hall, teachers huddle at library in the absence of a staff room and children are left to fantasize about playing cricket and Kabaddi-this is how one can summarize the fate of Mahatma Gandhi Government higher Primary (Kannada Medium) School Popularly called “Main School”.
“Nearly 90 per cent of the students are children of migrant workers from Bagalkot district. The remaining 10 per cent are from other districts of North Karnataka,” said Shambhu Suvarna, Headmaster of the school.
Despite efforts to improve enrolments, the student strength in the last few years has been hovering around the 100-150 mark. In addition to free uniforms, textbooks, midday meals and milk provided by the government, philanthropists have been providing notebooks and other stationeries.
“The emergence of nuclear families with couples preferring one or two children, and the desire to send their children to English medium schools has led to a decline in the intake,” said Mr. Suvarna.
The dwindling number of students saw a portion of the school building getting converted into Block Education Office about 15 years ago. As a result, Classes IV, V, VI and VII are taught in one hall separated by wooden partition walls.
Manjula R., a Class VII student, thinks the noise coming from the neighboring class is always a distraction. “I can hear lessons being taught in Class VI. It becomes too difficult to concentrate on our classes. It would have been better if there were separate classrooms.”
Only indoor games
The school spread on just 19 cents of land, has no playground. Students have to remain content with playing indoor games such as carrom, chess and ludo. “I love playing badminton, volley ball, and kabaddi. It would have been really nice if we had a playground,” said Ramesh Kumar, a Class VII student.
Until last year, the school got a monthly grant of Rs. 8,000 to ferry students to and from their colony under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. Now teachers pool in Rs. 4,000 a month from their salaries to hire a van to carry 30 young children (from Class I to Class IV) from the colony and back.
However, P. Nagaraj, Deputy Project Coordinator of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, said rules did not permit giving travelling allowance if there are schools in the neighborhood. He also said it would be difficult to undertake any construction, but promised to raise the height of the wooden partition to prevent distraction.
Nityananda Volakadu, an alumnus of Main School and former municipal councilor, said the school had a playground, which was given away to build a nursing quarters 15 years ago. “I will give a memorandum to the Education Minister demanding a playground,” he said.
However a teacher in the school said that elected representatives were not interested in the development of the school as migrant workers did not constitute a vote bank.