Anand Kirehosur is from the village of Javur in Navalgund taluk, Dharwad district. He is the youngest child in the family with an elder brother and four elder sisters who are married. No one in the family has gone to school. Anand's father is a shepherd and his elder son helps him.
At 9, Anand was still not in school as his parents felt that livelihood was more important, and the little boy lent a hand with minding the sheep. Once, one of Anand’s sisters, Devakka, who lived in Binadkatti village in Gadag district, fell ill and Anand was sent there to take care of her.
The Department of Education’s Enrolment Drive was going on. The Cluster Resource Person assigned to Binadkatti saw Anand at home and requested Devakka to get him admitted in school. But Anand had come to stay only for a few days. His sister, however, got him enrolled in the 1st grade in the local government school.
Anand was restless, he had never been to school in nine years. He would not sit in class with the younger children, nor would he touch his pencil. His mind was on his sheep in Javur. He pleaded with his sister to send him back.
His teacher, Shyama, played a big role in making sure Anand came to school, and with her encouragement and motivation he stayed on. What he needed was support, someone to take care of him. Shyama made him understand the importance of education. She was kind and considerate and persuaded him to study. Just for a year, she told him.
Anand trusted her, listened to her, and gradually started learning. Very soon his sense of inferiority vanished and he never wanted to go back to his village. Shyama taught him till the 3rd grade. Now Anand is a happy student in grade 4.
Happiness wells from other accomplishments too. At Akshara’s Gram Panchayat (GP) Mathematics Contest in Binadkatti, Anand bagged the 1st prize from among 48 contestants in his grade, scoring 20/20. The applause did not cease till he returned to his seat with his prize, tears of joy rolling down his cheeks. Devakka could not believe what she was witnessing. Few people knew Anand before. Now, with this achievement, he is a well-recognised kid in the Panchayat and his confidence is soaring.
There are so many such wonderful stories around us. A platform like the GP contest helps us uncover them.
Talavara F.A., 35, is a teacher at the government primary school in the village of Samshi about 50 kilometres from Dharwad. He has been teaching here for the last nine years. Akshara’s Field Coordinators tried hard to evoke some response from Talavara about Ganitha Kalika Andolana (GKA), Akshara’s Mathematics programme. But he showed no interest despite being the school’s Mathematics teacher. Neither was he keen to participate in any discussion during the GKA teachers’ training on the first day.
As the training concluded on day 3, however, he realised what he was missing while teaching an abstract subject like Mathematics, often complex and confusing for children. He began using GKA’s kit of teaching-learning materials (TLMs) in his class, and it was as though he had been unshackled from old beliefs. He started engaging with the Field Coordinators. Talavara saw the kit’s immense potential for deconstructing difficult concepts for children and helping them understand the fundamentals of Mathematics.
Talavara’s professional development was swift. The pictures he shares nowadays with teachers’ groups and the Field Coordinators depict his class, and he tells them how he is teaching Mathematics and how much he enjoys teaching with the TLMs. He worked hard to ensure that his school bags more than one prize in the Gram Panchayat Mathematics Contest Akshara held in his village a few weeks later in coordination with the local administration. He was overjoyed when he knew that his school’s children got two prizes at the event.
Talavara is a true ambassador of GKA. His misconceptions about NGOs only doling out supplies but not following up have been cleared and he enjoys sharing his success stories with GKA’s Mathematics kit.
Malingaraya Shivasharanappa, a youth from Iyyala village in Shahapura taluk, Yadgir district, brims with enthusiasm and youthful exuberance. He completed his D.Ed (Diploma in Education) and is a graduate holding a BSc (Bachelor of Science) degree. As a concerned and proactive citizen of his village, he was curious to observe the impact of Akshara’s 1-3-6-9 wall writing strategy in the Iyyala school.
On a visit there he was dismayed to find nothing going on. Nor had anything transpired since the wall writing appeared. No school revamping formula was being implemented. There was no energy or initiative for it. Malingaraya stepped into the Headmaster’s office and got into a heated argument with him on why the school was so indifferent to education. No satisfactory answer was given. The HM, not in the least interested in entertaining Malingaraya on this topic, asked him to go away.
On the spot, at that very moment, spurned and propelled to action, Malingaraya called the BEO (Block Education Officer) and BRP (Block Resource Person), top education officials in his taluk, and told them about the dire state of the school. He reported on the rampant teacher absenteeism, the poor quality of teaching, and said that the strategies for education represented by 1-3-6-9 were not being followed.
The BEO and BRP agreed to visit the school to take stock, which they did, and warned the HM that he would have to be more accountable. He was asked to ensure that what the 1-3-6-9 wall writing encapsulates be followed in letter and spirit – the monthly School Development and Monitoring Committee (SDMC) meetings; the quarterly parents’ meetings; the biannual parental review of children’s learning during the government’s Community Goes to School programme; and the regular attendance of children for 9 months.
Malingaraya now encourages SDMC members to get together more often to assess matters in school and focus on quality learning for Iyyala’s children.