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Starting a School in Remote Areas – A Case Study

India incorporates a diverse section of people from various backgrounds and milieu which is why as per the data records it is the second largest country in terms of population. It is a developing nation and education is something which appears to be quite challenging with the amenities provided by the authorities. The Scheduled Tribes (ST) are considered as one of the educationally backward section of the society. According to Article 342, the term ST is used to represent a group of indigenous people who have largely remained isolated from the prominent strata of the society.

The STs have largely occupied remote areas of the country which remains a crucial challenge for its development. The distinctiveness that these people bring in is their lifestyle which makes them unique from the mainstream section. As per the 2011 census, the population of these communities was about 104.28 million which is a rise over the previous decade. The significant changes that happened due to modernisation created a negative impact on them because it resulted in economic and cultural marginalisation of these groups.

The literacy rates of STs were 58.96% and in terms of higher education it dropped with 1.6% of the tribes having completed their graduation as compared to 12.6% in urban areas as per the records of National Sample Survey (NSS) of 2009-10. The ratio of STs getting educated is low as compared to the Scheduled Casts and they also witness higher dropout rates in 1 standards which is a clear indication of illiteracy level.

The Ministry of Tribal Affairs established Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS) in the year 1998 to provide high quality education in tribal areas by accommodating 480 students in each school. They have also introduced residential schools which is called Ashram Schools and gives equal importance to meditation, indoor and outdoor activities apart from classroom lectures.

The state Karnataka is located in the south western region where the literacy rate is 75.36% and is home to some of the prestigious institutions like Indian Institute of Science, Indian Institute of technology Dharwad etc. There are three types of schools; government schools, private aided and unaided and the medium of instruction in schools are Kannada and English. Nevertheless, it seems there is a substantial decrease in education when it comes to the tribal or inaccessible areas of the state. Probably, a large number of people are unaware about such places where there is lack of connectivity and interaction with the outside world.

The state is evidently home to several premium institutions yet they seem to be concentrated in select areas. The peripheries still do not have institutions that could be reckoned with. The same is especially true for quality schools. Far-fetched districts like Hunasagi is a case in point.

Hunasagi, a taluk located in Yadgir district of Karnataka which is 48 km southwest of Yadgir. It represents the interiors of north Karnataka where people hardly have access to basic amenities. Mostly, the natives are farmers and their livelihood mainly depend on farming, rearing of cattle etc. They don’t live in well-furnished concrete houses but in huts with thatched roofs which is prone to collapse.

The lack of basic facilities such as hospitals, vehicles, bathrooms etc. makes it even worse to survive in that locality. With the number of inhabitants living in the area, the literacy rate appears to be really low and it is due to a number of reasons:

  1. Unavailability of schools

  2. Since the parents are uneducated, they don’t realise the importance of education and hence hesitant to send their child to school

  3. Most of them belong to lower economic background, unable to afford fees.

  4. Education is treated among the lowest priorities reflected in minimal budget accorded to it. This trend seems pervasive in the entire community with few exceptions.

  5. Social conditioning and mores also play a role in relegating education to the margins and obstructing development.



How Affordable it is to Setup a School in Tribal Areas

Initiating a school in tribal areas comes up with different challenges. Besides locating a land, construction, interiors etc. there are numerous other factors that we need to look upon before the commencement especially in these locales. Many prominent people have come forward to modernize the region and uplift it by establishing schools in these districts. Dr. Veerabhadra Gouda is one among them who is a trendsetter in popularizing education in areas with significant tribal population.

Ashirwad Global School which is located in Hunasagi is one of the examples that reflect the challenges faced by educators and eduprenurs while initiating works in tribal areas. Mr. Gouda is the founding chairman of Ashirwad Global school who is a leading medical practitioner, businessman and philanthropist settled in Hunasagi for 20 years. He hails from an agricultural background which acquainted him with the ground realities and sensitized him to take such an initiative to bring the generation at par with their counterparts in the cities. Further, he got in touch with the school serv which provided with services in transforming his vison into reality by establishing an affordable school.

The school only has pre-primary and primary sections with a great number of students. It was launched in May 2019 with a capacity of 240 students, marking 100 percent enrolment which took place within the time frame of one month. The enthusiastic reception of the school by the community was inferred as an attitudinal shift or, at least, a possibility of such a shift.

The reason for rise in the number of admissions is probably because it was the first ever English-medium school in that place, which grabbed the attention of parents to admit their children. This served as an advantage in this particular case, yet, in School Serv’s experience gained after setting up schools in three different regions which can be considered remote, there are some notable concerns that the school management faces after setting up a school in such areas. They are as follows:

  1. teachers are hesitant to work in such locations owing to its remoteness.

  2. Settling for inexperienced teachers may compromise the quality of education

  3. Cleanliness. Ignoring child safety and security

  4. Language barrier

Education is witnessing a shift from the traditional approach to modern approach currently by implementing new methods. However, the problem is schools in tribal areas are not able to adapt to the modern techniques and are still stuck with the traditional teaching method. The teachers need proper guidance on how to effectively use the curriculum which is designed according to a student need. Unlike before, student’s involvement and teacher’s assistance are much more needed, for which teacher training and workshops need to be conducted more often.

The importance of education does not only lie in acquiring knowledge but it is a powerful mechanism to revolutionize the ongoing system in a nation or country. Therefore, it is important to make the present better for a good future.

 

Vinod Kakumanu

Vinod Kakumanu

Founder & Consultant - School Serv

Vinod Kakumanu heads a team of school services professionals and is an independent commentator on Indian school education scenario. Vinod has assisted school promoters establish 35+ schools besides providing ancillary services to over 1000 schools across India. He envisions a future where quality education is made available to every child of the country. The focus he places on the quality of the deliverables and customer satisfaction has made him renowned in the field of K-12 school education.

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