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Brighter days ahead

Highlights

Brighter days ahead, Chukka Ramaiah. If all heads, hands and hearts work in unison for improving our educational scenario in government schools, we can surely see a better 2014!

I am reminded of a story from our epics where Bali Chakravarthi feels disheartened to hear that Yudhishtira is offering food in charity to thousands of needy. His grief is because there are so many needy and it reflects on the poor governance! Where the governance is good, there won’t be need for too much philanthropy!

Meeting people with a social awareness and ability to visualise the areas where their services are needed most, is a rare occasion indeed. The most recent such experience was when I met M V Muthuramalingam, a retired PWD civil engineer. The seed of social consciousness that his mother had sown in the mind of M V Muthuramalingam, germinated and sprouted in establishing Velammal Matriculation School with the strength of 183 students and 13 staff members in 1986. Now it has branched into quality educational institutions. Truly, in a village with hardly 5,000 residents, can anyone dream of a well-equipped hospital, a medical college, a chain of engineering institutions and other educational facilities catering to the needs of nearly 85,000 beneficiaries? I am reminded of Albert Pike’s words: What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others remains immortal.

More than my visit to Madhura Meenakshi temple, my interaction with the staff and workers in the Velammal schools and colleges gave me a sense of satisfaction. The free medical facilities are extended to more than a thousand patients every day; the needy are provided some employment in the institutions, be it as drivers, cooks, servants and their children are offered free education.

The teachers are provided with all the facilities for offering competitive, student-centric learning; given training by experts from industries regarding the market demands so that the students can be tuned to acquire the skills in advance. The faculty members are provided free residential quarters so that the problem of either adjusting in a small village or commuting from the nearby city is avoided. The trust the institutions won because of their concern for the rural community, because of the medical facilities, free education to the rural children etc, has built a bond which is now successfully bridging the urban-rural gap and is bringing a social transformation. The areas like Madurai and Rameswaram down south are not developed but all the students from these institutions are confident of placements either in TCS, HCL or WIPRO for the institutions consult these industries and train their wards accordingly.

I am reminded of a story from our epics where Bali Chakravarthi feels disheartened to hear that Yudhishtira is offering food in charity to thousands of needy. His grief is because there are so many needy and it reflects on the poor governance! Where the governance is good, there won’t be need for too much philanthropy! Right? Before that ideal stage is realised, I feel that while offering support to the needy in any form is appreciable. I would like to mention another success story here.

School adoption programme

The Isha Foundation in Tamilnadu started with the mission to improve the quality and delivery of education for underprivileged children in rural Tamil Nadu. Currently out of the 10 million children attending government schools in that state, 28,000 children from 31 schools benefit from Isha Outreach’s Government School Adoption Programme. They are facilitating the institutionalisation of changes, by partnering with the government and other stakeholders. The road ahead may be long and uneven, but the goal is appreciable and the success achieved so far is motivation enough to strive ahead. This model is worth replicating indeed!

Last year, the third annual India Philanthropy Report by Bain & Company focused on the emerging generation of wealthy young philanthropists, many of whom are under 40 and have less than three years of philanthropic experience. The top two areas of concern for philanthropists in 2012 were providing food and clothing, and supporting education and they have remained the same this year, garnering attention from 78% and 74% of donors, respectively.

In an opportunity to address our NRIs in a teleconference I appealed to them to do something for their villages. When they asked what they could do, I suggested that they could easily provide funds to install a lab at a cost of Rs. 3 lakh in each government school. They were willing to donate and wanted the official procedure to be initiated by our State government enabling them to do the needful. I submitted the list of NRIs willing to donate funds, to our CM with a request for the necessary follow-up which somehow is still pending.

How can I forget the wonderful work being done by NRIs from a small village in Miryalaguda where they have built staff quarters with all amenities for the government school teachers with the hope of making the government school a ‘model school’? The only request from their side while providing the facilities was a promise that the teachers would not be absent to school! In Warangal District Narsampeta, the NRIs give away several prizes and awards to children from Government schools there.

Many of the Navodaya Schools and the government school in Ramachandrapuram stand on the large acres of land donated by philanthropists. Just as competitions in several fields are conducted annually in Bhuvanagiri for the students of Social Welfare Schools, there are other schools too trying to encourage the learners of government schools.

What I feel is that with a little bit of planning and government support, the generosity of the public can be put to better and lasting use.

If all heads, hands and hearts work in unison for improving our educational scenario in government schools, we can surely see a better 2014!

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