About 50 km away from the bustling city of Bengaluru, is the town of Ramanagara. Its rocky hills captured national attention as the hide-out of the formidable villain Gabbar Singh (played by Amjad Khan), in the cult classic, Sholay.
These days, one is likely to stumble upon young Nagaraju wandering the hills at 9:30 am, every morning. The teacher climbs over 300 steps everyday, traversing the hills come rain or shine, on his mission to get his students to school.
Nagaraju is a teacher at the government-run school set up 16 years ago near Ramadevara Betta. The school caters to the Iruliga tribe, a minority tribe that resides in 350 acres of forested land at the foothills of the Ramanagara hills.
The school has 36 students from Class 1 to Class 5. The campus also has a kitchen, toilets as well as a bathroom.
Teachers from the school are going out-of-their-way to ensure that their students get a quality education.
Photo Source: Wikipedia
The headmistress of the school, Jayamma reaches the school every morning at 9:30 am. She then begins her daily ritual of walking through the by-lanes of the Iruliga tribe’s settlement, searching for students and herding them to school. She is helped by Susheela, an Angandwadi teacher.
Like her, her colleague, Nagaraju too, religiously treks up the hill everyday, gathering students who are often found begging for alms at the Ram temple that crowns the hill.
Once in school, teachers take on the task of bathing the students, three times a week. They also regularly cut their hair, making the students presentable for their day at school.
While the teachers admit that the routine is tiring, they are driven by the desire to change the lives of their students.
Nagaraju told The Times of India, “The students’ future is at stake here. If we don’t prod them to study, then they may end up like their parents as daily-wage workers. It’s our duty to guide these children into schools.”