The Kilpady Lower Primary School in Mulki, in Mangaluru taluka, has only four students and one teacher. With such a small number of staff and students, this half-a-century-old Kannada medium school would have been shut down long ago.
But it has not, thanks to daily wage labourers Vasudev Moolya and Laxmi and their class 2 daughter, Nishmitha. Their determination to educate their child despite difficult circumstances is an inspiration to us all.
To be clear, no student should have to take this much effort to reach their school. But the sad reality is that in a large number of cases, Indian parents refuse to send their children to school for the smallest of reasons – especially if the child is a girl.
But not Nishmitha, whose parents are certainly doing all they can.
In a bid to stop the school’s closure, Laxmi and Nishmitha travel almost 60 km, walking an hour one way to reach the school.
From their home, the mother-daughter duo walks for around an hour to reach the bus stand and then change two buses to reach Kilpady. After getting down from the bus, they walk for about 12 minutes to reach the school.
Since Laxmi is a labourer, if she finds work in the vicinity of the school, she works there and returns to the school in time to take Nishmitha home. On other days, she drops Nishmitha to the school and travels to remote places for work, only to return home in the evening.
“On an average, she spends about Rs 70 on bus rides. Despite all this, they continue to come to this school,” the teacher at Kilpady said in an interview with the Times of India.
The teacher, who lives in Mangaluru, which is 35 kms away from the school, changes about six buses to reach the school every day.
Even though Vasudev Moolya and Laxmi moved to a Kudri Padavu, Karkala after building a house there in October, they decided not to let Nishmitha cancel her admission.
One of the primary reasons of this was, the teacher approached the couple and told them how Nishmitha’s leaving would drastically reduce the already dwindling number of students and the school. Then, it would have to shut down.
Of the four students that currently study at the school, two of them are class 5 students.
“If they leave next year, the school will have only two students,” the teacher said.
It is disheartening to see that the school that was the only educational facility almost 50 years ago in the area is facing closure, due to the rising number of English-medium schools in the area.
No more do villagers, despite home-visits, want to send their kids to a Kannada-medium school that years ago formed the base of their basic formal education.
We hope the school’s fight for survival draws the attention of the concerned authorities and helps it regain its recognition.