In Dakshin Kannada, amid lush greenery lies the quaint village of Savanalu, where most residents are involved in farming. They enjoy a quiet life away from pollution and the hustle-bustle of the city. Be that as it may, one essential requirement in this village, like every other, is a good school.
The nearest school for Savanulu children in the ‘50s was 7 kilometres away in Belthangady. Since transport was difficult, a group of youngsters from the village came together, formed a trust, and built a school in the heart of Savanulu to give their children the gift of education in 1953.
The government aided school has been run by Sri Laxminarayana Education Trust for the last 69 years. Today, the village has a government high school as well as another primary school.
What has remained unchanged over the decades, say the alumni, is the quality of education imparted in the Aided Higher Primary School, Savanalu.
“Almost seven decades ago, there was no school in this village. It was very difficult in those days to send children far away to study. These trustees did a big thing by building this school. Generations have benefitted thanks to them. Students from here have gone on to achieve big things in life in various fields,” says Shekhar, an alumni of the school and an advocate at the Supreme Court.
The difference a school makes
This Kannada-medium school teaches students from classes 1 to 7.
Ranganatha Rao, a resident of Savanalu, says, “In the ‘50s, villagers wanted to sponsor a good school. But there was no school at that time and the village wasn’t developed. Even Belthangady, the nearest town, was on the path to development. So these trustees took a lot of effort, pooled in their money, and built this from scratch. They started the school till Class 5 and gradually increased it till Class 7.”
This school helped change the face of the village.
Thanks to the quality of education and dedication of the teachers, the first school of Savanalu helped produce scientists, engineers, IAS officers, advocates, teachers etc, says Shekhar.
“This school was the biggest gift to our village, started by our forefathers,” says Krishnappa Gowda, president of the trust. “My brothers are well educated and my children are lawyers thanks to this institution. We all would have simply not gone to a school far away as our parents couldn’t afford or arrange for transport.”
“For several families like ours, it’s been a blessing. Since it’s in the middle of the village, children just walk to the school. Children of poor families like ours have been given access to a great education.”
The alumni of the school have been taking efforts to ensure that it keeps up with the times. Along with a few NGOs, they contributed for a new building in the school, as well as renovation and repairs.
“I studied here almost 15 years ago. It was absolutely wonderful and I have such good memories associated with the school. The teachers were great and impart quality education. The school also has a huge playground and the greenery around is an additional advantage,” says Nagaraj, an engineer and alumni.
Even today, the school charges a nominal fee from its students. The government provides free food in the afternoon through its midday meals scheme.
Over the years, as the strength of students increased, the trust has found it difficult to pay the increasing expenses.
“Over the years, while quality has remained the same, expenses have increased. Government pays only for teachers’ salaries and food. Maintenance, modernisation and newer equipment for the students burns a hole in their pocket,” adds Rao.
The government pays the salary of two teachers, while the school needs more to handle seven classes.
“We need at least five more teachers, one for each class. We need to pay each teacher at least Rs 10,000 per month. Our trust is in dire need of funds. We want to continue to run this school with the same quality,” adds Gowda.
The school needs at least Rs 50,000 per month for the salary of teachers.
To help them, you can donate to:
Account name: Shree Lakshminarayana education trust
Account number: 45150200000119
IFSC Code: BARB0BELTHA
Bank of Baroda, Belthangady branch