On any visit to schools in Telangana or AP, the one thing I regretted was my inability to communicate with the students or the staff because of my extremely minimal knowledge of Telugu. This would imply to the government schools in the city Hyderabad as well.
Same was my perception when I started planning for the Vijayawada schools. All I could think of was small villages, government schools, students from very poor families hence I was only a facilitator to the entire process of setting up those libraries or more of an audience.
It started slowly and caught on to me by the 6th school, that these people took education much more seriously than anyone of my team could have perceived.
At the inaugurations, the Sarpanch, the principal and my team were seated before the school and spoke about the library and books in Telugu. The Principal of the first school asked me to address the students but I was hesitant talking to a crowd that would not understand me at all (based on my previous experiences). However, for the first time I spoke and that’s when I got surprised. The students responded in English; with much more energy.
A Big salute to the very ambitious Principals and the staff who have been encouraging their Telugu medium school students to understand English and speak as much as they can.
The teacher’s keen interest to introduce the students to a newer world was obvious in their excitement to see what books have been brought in. The long discussions with the principals, their doubts and questions, were all a part of their want to provide the students with all they can. The response to setting up library in the school was alike for the students, teachers and school authorities. They clearly knew its importance and the difference it would make.
The Vijayawada visit was about providing the students with something more to learn and develop but it taught me something instead. It’s not about how far they are from the city or how many computers they have, it’s about what they want for their children and how determined they are to provide for it.
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Written by: Rachita Pati, Program Manager, Food 4 Thought Foundation