The Panchayat Union Middle School in Kattumalaiyanur, located 15 kilometres from Thiruvannamalai, is a government-run middle school for Classes I to VIII and has a student strength of 169. Look at one of its classrooms and the imminent need for a face-lift becomes apparent. On a sweltering summer day, the children sit inside these classrooms with a fan that does not work, under a roof that needs fixing.
With peeling walls, broken windows and a leaking roof, this facility is the only middle school in the village that has minimal or no access to buses, autos and other forms of transportation that might take students to other schools. â€śFor students taking up Class IX, it is a 7-kilometre walk or cycling to the nearest high school,â€ť says Jayapriya, the schoolâ€™s science teacher who has been working there since 2009.
The school has two facilities - located a little away from each other - with one that has classrooms for Standard I to V and the other for students in Standard VI, VII and VIII. The building for students in their primary classes has three classrooms and one common area. It is this building that is currently in this poor condition for over three years and requires immediate repairs, says Jayapriya.
â€śThe students in this school are from very underprivileged societal classes, including tribes living around the area, and their parents cannot contribute for the schoolâ€™s infrastructure development. Our repeated requests to the government have not be successful so far,â€ť she shares.
Of the 169 students enrolled in this school, 78 are primary school students. In order to renovate the building, Jayapriya has launched an online crowdfunding campaign to raise funds.
â€śWe recently renovated the other building and the toilets by reaching out to people through Facebook. We also had the primary school playgrounds readied and smartboard installed in VI,VII, VIII classrooms with the help of HCLâ€™s corporate social responsibility funds,â€ť says Jayapriya.
The last time around, they received Rs 55,000 from a donor to build the toilet compound wall while the teachers together contributed Rs 15,000. Tiles for the floor were donated by someone and another person contributed Rs 25000 for laying them. Tech company HCL reportedly contributed Rs 80,000 for the smartboard which costs Rs 1,30,000 in total - the rest of the cost was borne by other donors from the staff's friend circle.
Jayapriya goes on to add, â€śPreviously, I did a similar campaign to raise funds for one of my students who was undergoing cancer treatment. I hope this, too, will be successful.â€ť
With broken windows and a leaking roof, the school has become unsafe for children, confides Jayapriya.
â€śIf the windows are kept open, thereâ€™s fear of things being stolen. Also, shouldnâ€™t the learning environment be inviting and stimulating for children? How will they study under such conditions?â€ť she asks.
Pal Thangam, the schoolâ€™s principal, adds that with the monsoon approaching, the need to fix the roof and windows has become imminent.
â€śFor around three years, weâ€™ve had to manage with a leaky roof and broken windows. The renovation will cost us around Rs 4 lakhs and we are yet to receive support from the government. That is when Jayapriya teacher suggested that we try online crowdfunding. We hope this is successful since people have been kind to us in the past,â€ť she says.
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