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18 maggio 2009
Development Gummanahalli’s Samatha Vidyalaya which was inaugurated on May 9 hopes to introduce a novel system of education, writes Ramesh Sogemane
Ram Manohar Lohia was one of the greatest thinkers our country has produced. It was his dream to establish a model school in a village in Madhya Pradesh. He dreamt of setting up a school that would nestle in the hilly region on a 1,000-acre plot, where children would get to learn rural art and crafts, apart being trained by way of formal education. But, that dream was never realised. At least, in Madhya Pradesh.
Meanwhile, farmer leader Kadidal Shamanna, Anasuyamma, writer Devanur Mahadeva, social activist Nisar Ahmed, economist Jasveer Singh, noted lawyer Prof Ravikumar Varma have all done their bit to convert Lohia’s dream into reality: the Lohia Samatha Vidyalaya on a five-acre plot at Gummanahalli in Tumkur district’s Shira taluk. The school, which was inaugurated on May 9, hopes to inculcate interest among children in not just academics, but also in co-curricular activities.
Even before the school was started, there have been several seminars and conferences on issues related to education and minorities.
Way back in 1981...
Come to think of it, such a school is not exactly the first of its kind. In 1981, the farmers’ movement in the state was at its peak. The farmers of Aralaalusandra in Channapatna taluk came up with the idea of setting up a Samatha school on a 30-acre plot. This was of course headed by Lohia followers Prof Nanjundaswamy and Kishan Patnaik.
A Trust comprising seven likeminded people was then formed. Way back in the Eighties, the school hosted several conferences and meetings at the international level. The school was also like a laboratory to experiment with and implement novel education schemes. “Skills such as sericulture, weaving blankets, cattle rearing were all taught at the school,” points out Trust member Anasuyamma. Today, a Gram Swarajya Samithi comprising 30 youths is still in place in the village.
The Gummanahalli school seeks to follow this model, and holds several experiments like the school at Aralaalusandra. The school intends to chalk out programmes that will create social and political awareness among Gram Panchayat members. The principle behind this programme is that any change is possible only if the grassroots problems are solved, and there is awareness at that level about issues that matter.
The school also aims to make Shira taluk, perennially drought-hit, a literate taluk. There are plans to publish books, and also create awareness among the villagers about inter-caste marriages.
The group of people who are starting the school also aim to hold simple mass marriages to drive home the importance of simplicity.
Then, there are plans to instill a love for literature among children by way of programmes such as ‘Kuvempu for children’.
Also, the school has no black boards like in a typical school, and students don’t have to carry loads of books to class either.
Neither is there any pressure of uniforms. At a time when we are celebrating a 100 years of Swaraj Hind, as envisaged by Gandhi, this school by Lohia followers is like icing on the cake.