India Cements and VMF Team Up To Enhance Government Schools’ Education In Malkapur

VMF personnel from Hyderabad- Ram Chilukuri and Navin Rao visited the India Cements facility in Malkapur on January 21, 2011. This facility is located 17km from Thandur, a dominant cement producer in A.P., 100km from Gachibowli, Hyderabad in Ranga Reddy district. The office manager Venkata Ramana joined the team which proceeded to the nearby Zilla Parishad High School to see how the students of 10th class can gain help during their examination camp that has commenced from December 27, 2010 to continue till mid-March. In this examination camp, undertaken for the first time by the District Education department, the class teachers conduct intense classes from 9am-5pm. The team got there around 11:45am and spent around 2 hours. Two local well wishers of VMF from Thandur also joined the meeting.

The ZPH School (6th to 10th class) is around 5km from India Cements plant. The strength of the school was 428- 232 boys (55% of total) and 196 girls (45% of total). Along with the mainstream Telugu medium of instruction they are also offering English medium classes to a minority of 53 students from 6th-10th class. The staff comprises of 12 teachers holding a P.G. degree along with B.Ed. The same staff teaches both Telugu and English medium classes. Staff is well paid with average annual salaries above Rs. 20,000 p.m. India Cements has done such a great job addressing the infrastructural needs of this school that all nearby schools are also deriving benefit from it. The Principal was not available but the team interacted with 3 young teachers who gave a good feedback as summarized below.
1. The school is a complex school (shares its infrastructure) for 7 nearby high schools. So help given to this one school will benefit all the nearby high schools which use their facilities.
2. They wish to have a science lab with equipment, material and some study material. They were asked to provide a detailed list of items needed. They assured that nearby high schools can also take advantage of this lab. The estimated expense for the science lab would be around Rs.70,000/-. It would be helpful if India Cements can help with this expense.
3. The pass percentage for 10th class went up from the earlier year’s 58% to 73% last year. Thanks to additional young and energetic staff. This year school is aiming for higher pass percentage.
4. A total of 77 students is currently attending 10th class camp. Before the start of the camp the fail percentage was around 50% in at least one of the subjects. 10th class instruction starts in June/July and ends in December. So, the camp is the only opportunity to improve the pass percentage. Toward the end of the camp, teachers conduct pre-exams before the SSC Board exams last week of March. India Cements also hired two part-time volunteers to assist the teachers during morning and evening hours. Both the Education Department and India cements have provided examination guides. The teachers have requested for school supplies and study material: note books, maps, campus etc., and VMF’s exam preparation material (a special collection including examination questions from past 10 years). The cost estimate for 80 sets amounting Rs.20,000 was given to India Cements. For long-term effectiveness VMF is looking into running study center for 9th/10th class students in all the 8 high schools with its volunteers. VMF is also considering running a tuition service with girl volunteers for primary school students in and around Malkapur under Sarada Bala Vikasa Kendra project.

5. It has been observed that most of the 10th class students look underweight and underfed. Apparently many of them do not eat breakfast at home and go hungry until the mid-day meal which is served around 1pm in the school premises. Less than a simple meal of rice and dal (cooked by the Anganwadi members under the government free mid-day meal program) was served on the day of the visit. The meal costs Rs. 4.50 per student to government, thanks to subsidized rice provided to school. The ladies running Anganwadi experiencing difficulty in rain and heat have been in need of a sheltered kitchen for cooking midday meals. VMF requested India Cements to provide snacks like milk biscuits during breakfast and evening tea time which would cost less than Rs.10/- per student costing a total of Rs. 24,000 for all students attending the camp. The milk biscuits can be purchased in Thandur and supplied to high school for remaining days of the camp.

After completing their visit to ZP High School in Malkapur, the team went to nearby primary schools and met few teachers. Two primary schools are run side by side in the same campus. The interaction was brief and lasted for 30 minutes, after which the visiting team left for a late lunch in Thandur and returned to Hyderabad around 5pm.
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