Swathi and Vijay have been painting schools in Telangana villages in a bid to bring down the dropout rates.

Meet the Hyd couple painting schools in Telangana villages to reduce dropout rates
news Education Saturday, June 30, 2018 - 19:30

Hyderabad based couple Swathi and Vijay are using art to fight the school dropout rates in Telangana villages. The couple, whose distinctive signatures mark the creative graffiti around the streets of Hyderabad, is giving an artistic makeover to the schools in Telangana’s villages which are under the grave threat of closure due to high dropout rates.

The couple, which was earlier part of a large self-funded art initiative to highlight the agrarian crisis, began the project in 2016 after reading an article on the high dropout rates in Telangana villages where around 2000 schools were on the verge of closure.

“The figures were alarming. We didn't know how to help and thought of ways to improve the standards of government schools instead of shutting them down,” Swathi says. The artistic duo then decided to transform the walls of a government school in a village in Rangasaipet in Warangal, which had just 15 students.

“It was a laborious task. We made the children of the school a part of the paintings. We clicked their pictures and painted their own faces on the walls.This made them enthusiastic and seeing their own faces on the walls, they felt the need to maintain it,” Swathi says.

The couple took 10 days to finish painting the school and in a year, the school’s strength doubled with almost all the children in the village attending school. Children from even the neighbouring villages enrolled for admission, adds Swathi.

In 2017, the couple took to beautifying the Bodhi school in Narayankhed in Sangareddy.

“We made the two domes of the school building into books and painted children drenching in ‘alphabet rain’. We always plan our designs according to the architecture of the building and start our work during summer vacations, so that the strength in the next academic year is boosted,” Vijay shares.

The duo started the initiative and transformed the schools under their own small budget.

“Our third work at Narayanapuram government primary school in Khammam this year took almost a month to complete under a budget of Rs 40,000. The school had around 6-7 rooms and a huge playground. We painted the compound walls of the school ground with yoga postures and the interior walls with formulas, equations and rhymes. The wall of the washroom has one of the kids washing his hands. We make sure our paintings are illustrative and interactive and always have something for the students to learn from,” says Swathi.

Talking about parents’ cooperation in these villages, Vijay says that one of the main reasons for high school dropout rates, especially among girls, is the lack of schools at a safe distance.

“Parents are scared to let their kids go to schools far away and instead prefer them to stay home and do household chores. As our work progressed, we could see that parents themselves let their kids join us and were thrilled seeing their pictures on the wall," he shares.

“The kids now consider themselves a part of the school. They are more enthusiastic to bring their family members who visit their villages to the school. We turned the school walls into our canvas. School is no longer boring and there are fewer children who miss school now. The children are clearly loving it,” Swathi adds.



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