This rural school saw enrolment go up 30 times in five years

Much before ‘Nadu Nedu’ was conceived, this single-teacher school in a nondescript village registered a quantum jump of over 30 times in enrolment in five years, for which it even got a sanction of three additional teaching positions.

Welcome to Mandal Parishat Primary School, Pittigunta, in Kasinayana mandal of Kadapa district, which has set the bar high for other schools to emulate. Staring at a blank future over its very existence in 2016 with just three students, it registered a student strength of 23 in 2017, 62 in 2018, 83 in 2019 and finally breached the three-digit mark to get 103 students in 2020.

Poaching became a thing of the past and ‘reverse poaching’ started four years back, leading to ‘en masse migration’ from the private school situated half a kilometre away.

Ganugapenta Ramana Reddy, the teacher who joined here in August 2017 from the nearby P. Uppuluru school, took up the task of convincing parents of children studying in private schools. “We explained the advantages of a public school and even compared the level of knowledge gained by their wards and my students. The thoroughly-satisfied parents agreed for the switchover”, Mr. Reddy told The Hindu.

He said that students from the nearby Porumamilla town made a beeline to Pittigunta. “Even government school teachers in nearby villages got their wards admitted here”, he says, brimming with pride. When the enrolment picked pace, the teacher got two teachers recruited on part-time basis and paid them salary from his pocket, till he got official sanction. Apart from spending ₹1.50 lakh for developing a library, he also bought modern gadgets like laptop, audio-visual system, photocopier and two Smart TVs to ensure tech-driven education.

“Our syllabus is equivalent to CBSE. We use high standard mathematics text books by Chand Publications”, adds Mr. Reddy, who received the district level ‘Best teacher award’ in 2016. These children are also trained for Navodaya and Sainik entrance tests. As the word spread, the fifth class students leaving this campus were handpicked by corporate schools in nearby towns.

Even COVID-19 could not dampen their spirits. When most corporate schools opted for online mode of education, this school functioned normally by following physical distancing.

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