While education is often touted as the beacon of hope for those from marginalised and underprivileged backgrounds to rise above poverty and clinch greater heights in life, the sad reality in India is that a large percentage of children from such households drop out even before they reach high school.
It is in such situations where the definition of education in schools should evolve from the basic blackboard and curriculum-driven learning, with schools going the extra mile for what it takes to retain the wards.
In the backwater district of Alappuzha, a government lower primary (LP) school is doing everything to maintain its student roll of 750 through a slew of initiatives—a statistic that is rare when it comes to government schools in rural areas.
By setting up a textile shop that will let parents pick up free clothes for their school going children, the Mattathilbhagom LP school in Arookutty Panchayat is setting a rare example. Families in the region suffer from acute financial difficulties, so this initiative will be a lifesaver.
Spearheaded by the school’s Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), one of the classrooms has been transformed into a ‘shop’ that will officially open its doors on Thursday, with a stock of 70 garment pieces.
“Most of the children in the school are from poor families. Their parents work in prawn peeling sheds and fish processing centres in the panchayat. Our village is one of the more backward panchayats in the state and around 50 per cent of the families come under the BPL category. They cannot afford new clothes for their children, so the PTA decided to open the textile shop with the help of its members, staff and well-wishers,” said headmaster Ashok Kumar to Edex Live.
This has not been the first time that the PTA has stepped up for the students.
In fact, they have been supplying educational kits, including uniforms, bags, textbooks, notebooks, pencils, water bottles and other items to students from time to time.
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According to PTA President Abdul Khadar, the initiative will also be a boost for the underprivileged in the area.
Without limiting their support in protecting the public education system, the school authorities have also been lending a helping hand for parents as well by organising training sessions in income-generating activities such as the making of paper bags, chalk and candles, LED bulb production and chicken farming.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)