FOR YEARS, this government school in Mysore struggled to survive, operating from rooms inside a railway colony, its strength down to 60 students. This weekend, it got two permanent classrooms designed to draw the envy of schools across the country.
The classrooms are two real train coaches, refurbished with stairways, brightly painted exteriors, and fans, lights and colourful illustrations inside.
Joy of Learning, Better on Board: At Mysuru, Indian Railways has converted 2 old coaches into bright & colourful classrooms to provide ‘Nali Kali’ (Joyful Learning) environmemt with proper teaching aids, for an innovative & fun learning experience to sixty children of the school. pic.twitter.com/fffWMi9T1n
— Ministry of Railways (@RailMinIndia) January 20, 2020
So much so, that South Western Railway (SWR) officials claim the bogies-turned-classrooms in Govt. Primary School Ashokapuram are a first in India.
“The school was operating from buildings and rooms of the railway quarters in the premises for over two decades. The coaches, which were officially declared unfit for use, were refurbished to provide the students a fun and conducive atmosphere for learning,” says P Srinivasu, chief manager, Railway workshop, Ashokapuram.
“The school has seen a major drop in strength over the years as we lacked good infrastructure and permanent buildings. At present, we have 60 students from classes 1 to 7, mostly from families below the poverty line, and four teachers. Now, we hope to attract more students,” says Jayalakshmi S, the headmistress.
Of the two coaches, one has been divided into two classrooms — for classes IV and V — and the other is a meeting and activity area for the students.
According to officials, a chunk of the budget of Rs 50,000 for this SWR initiative, was used for the “major challenge” — get cranes to lift the coaches across to the school. “Everything else, including painting, designing, getting fans, lights, books and stationery, was done with the help of donations raised from Railway staff and other like-minded citizens,” says Srinivasu.
Bio-toilets have also been installed outside. The next step: Remodel metal scrap from coaches to provide a roof for the entire school premises.