Transforming Lives in Chamarajanagar: A School’s Tale

From Herding Cattle to Opening a School: How One Person is Empowering Village Children in Chamarajanagar

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Customer story - PRERANA SCHOOL

Mahadevaswamy A S, Prerana School, Chamarajanagar, Karnataka

Background

In our world where many people harbor dreams, only a select few dare to act upon them. Mahadevaswamy A S, the visionary founder of Prerana School, is a prime example of this. To him, achieving a meaningful cause requires not only relentless hard work but also a profound sense of purpose.

Reflecting on his humble beginnings, Mahadevaswamy recollects, “We faced hardships during my student days. Hailing from an agricultural family, school education was considered a luxury we could only afford after tending to our cattle in the early hours. But I was as determined as ever to complete my education and discover my true calling.”

Mahadevaswamy’s idea of starting a school lay dormant until he found that calling. He explains, “Following the completion of my B.Ed in 1991, I ventured into various businesses, from electrical contracts to drip irrigation, for a span of 15 years. It was during this period that I was inspired to establish Prerana School, providing basic education to the children of Ankanashettypura village in Chamarajanagar.”

Prerana School

How the school started

Starting a school in a rural setting is quite a tough task, one that calls for patience and resolute determination. Mahadevaswamy shares, “I took the initiative to launch the school within the confines of a rented house. A few close friends and I came together, officially registering the institution in September, 2009. Subsequently, we initiated the application for permission in 2010.”

He fondly reminisces, “In the beginning, we had just 16 students, accompanied by three dedicated teachers and a faithful helper. The initial expenses for the first year totaled a sum of 5 lakhs, and we had to rent school vans. By the second year, our student body had grown to 45, prompting me to invest an additional 5 lakhs from my personal savings.”

Mahadevaswamy further shares how he had a piece of land and started constructing a new school at an expense of 25 lakhs. “Initially, we catered to students from LKG to 3rd standard, and even rented three school vans during the third year, which proved to be a substantial financial burden,” he adds. Moving into the fourth year, the school’s expansion cost soared to 35 lakhs, culminating in a student count of 130.

By the academic year of 2018-19, a significant surge in student enrollment was observed. “So, we decided to acquire a new school bus, utilizing 5 lakhs from our earnings and securing a loan of 10 lakhs,” he recalls, explaining, “When the 2019-20 academic year arrived, the school boasted an impressive roster of 280 students, encompassing grades from LKG to the 7th standard.”

When asked if he had a clear vision for the school, the school leader confidently affirms, “Absolutely, I always had a clear vision of the kind of school I aspired to establish. My B.Ed degree served as an invaluable guiding light on this remarkable journey.”

Also Read: A Journalist Turned School Leader Is Making Education Accessible In Punahana

Impact of the Pandemic on the school

The pandemic’s far-reaching effects spared no one, and Prerana School was no exception. Mahadevaswamy reflects, “Our student enrollment suddenly fell to 130, and I personally endured a staggering loss of 13 lakhs during the two years of pandemic-imposed restrictions.” The school found itself compelled to renegotiate loans, both for its infrastructure and school transportation. He goes on to reveal, “Over the years, the school managed to generate approximately 20 lakhs in revenue, but the cumulative expenses swelled to 45 lakhs. It became my personal responsibility to bridge the financial gap.”

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School’s USP

The school leader proudly declares, “Our school stands apart with its exceptional education system, innovative environment, and stellar management—qualities that parents consider when sending their children to the school.

Prerana School is renowned for its commitment to quality education. They’ve established a valuable partnership with WINGS for LKG and UKG, and taken the initiative to spearhead teacher training, curricular materials, evaluations, and more, leaving an indelible mark.

In addition, Mahadevaswamy beams with pride as he reveals, “Every single one of our teachers holds qualifications in M. Ed. or B.Ed. At present, our dedicated team comprises 12 teachers who are wholeheartedly committed to nurturing the potential of our students.”

Mahadevaswamy proudly underscores, “Our students consistently achieve top grades as they continue their educational journey in other institutions.”

Smart solution to bridge the learning gap

Mahadevaswamy enthusiastically talks about their proactive approach to addressing the learning gap caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. He recounts, “During the height of the most stressful situation, we launched the Vidyagama initiative, bringing together students from various villages for several months. When certain restrictions were eased, we received instructions to resume classes for the 6th and 7th standards. Nevertheless, we made it a point to commence and maintain classes for the 5th standard as well. Simultaneously, we continued conducting online classes.”

“As a result, our students have successfully caught up,” the school leader proudly shares.

He goes on to mention, “The 1st standard students, who initially struggled due to missing kindergarten, faced challenges for the first six months. However, all aspects of their learning have now stabilized.”

Partnership with Varthana

“In the initial stages, we faced considerable challenges in running the school. We required loans to cover teachers’ salaries and fund the construction of two additional rooms in 2016, incurring costs of approximately 8 lakhs. For the construction, we secured a loan of 5 lakhs from Varthana,” Mahadevaswamy explains. He expresses his gratitude, saying, “I am deeply thankful for their unwavering support during the most challenging times.”

Also Read: One school leader’s mission to educate orphan children in rural Odisha

Vision

When asked about growth prospects for the future, he responded with confidence that the future holds great promise. He concludes by saying, While we place great importance on extra-curricular activities, it would be wrong to expect immediate success without investing the necessary efforts. Perseverance is the key.”

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