How One School Leader Is Transforming Lives In Belthangady

How One School Leader Is Transforming Lives In Belthangady

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Varsha Reddy, Shri Vidya Sagara School

Varsha Reddy, Shri Vidya Sagara School, Belthangady, Karnataka

“Good atmosphere nurtures responsible behaviour for a secure and innovative future. Every student should serve as a role model” is a goal that the Shri Vidya Sagara School in Belthangady, Karnataka strives to achieve.

Varsha Reddy, originally from Bangalore, relocated to Belthangady with her parents to establish a school and improve the quality of education in a rural area. She desired a peaceful life away from the monotony of city life. Varsha stresses, “Education is a fundamental requirement for human beings. It is not just a habit, but we learn something new every day from various sources such as our parents, pupils, and curriculum. As educators, we cannot remain stagnant. We must continuously upgrade ourselves, and enjoy the fascinating journey.”

Varsha Reddy, Shri Vidya Sagara School, Belthangady, Karnataka

Why did you take up the initiative of starting a school in a rural area?

“Good education is necessary in rural areas to transform the mindset of the population and make them aware of how fast-paced and competitive the world is,” says Varsha confidently.

“Cities have several schools with all the necessary amenities and infrastructure. However, the student population in rural areas is unaware of the excellent educational system available. Unfortunately, parents in rural areas are merely concerned about their children attending school and lack an understanding of the value of education. This lack of knowledge creates a disadvantage for rural students, who are not adequately prepared for the competitive and fast-paced world in which we live. They need to gain knowledge of the market and the competitive world to prepare children for the future and nurture them accordingly. This is the primary area in which rural residents still trail behind city students,” she adds.

In a predominantly agri-based country like ours, it is imperative to nurture and prepare children for the future, and Varsha believes that “rural areas will need to catch up with the competitive world” or their kids will fail to nurture responsible behaviour for a secure and innovative future.

“Every student ought to serve as a role model. Education is a fundamental right, and we must work towards making it accessible to all, regardless of where they live.”

What is education all about?

This is a question that has puzzled many, but according to Varsha, it’s more than just academics. It’s about instilling in children the values of humanity and respect that cannot be learned in a classroom. “The ability to be innovative is something that students should practice.”

Varsha explains how students need to develop the ability to think outside the box, come up with new ideas and solutions to problems. The school leader gave an example of how students are required to prepare a model every Thursday and present it to the class in a unique way, learning from different mediums to enhance their performance. The challenge of this task is to perform it more creatively and effectively than their peers, pushing them to think innovatively.

As technology continues to advance, students must remain informed and up-to-date. With access to information at their fingertips, students are increasingly aware of what’s happening around them. However, the school leader believes that it’s crucial for students to develop their critical thinking skills and not just rely on technology.

Education is not just about academics but also about practical skills. Varsha mentions about a cooking competition where every student participates and practices at home to prepare the dish that has the best flavor. This helps students develop essential life skills that they will need in the future.

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What were the initial challenges?

“Challenges are an everyday reality,” according to Varsha, and her initial struggles were no exception. She faced a daunting task of winning over a neighborhood that was resistant to change. “People around here may have different perspectives than I do,” she laments, highlighting the difficulty of introducing new ideas in an insular community. But for Varsha, the most significant obstacle was providing quality education to her students.

The community’s perception of education was limited to mere attendance, whether it was in Kannada or English. Free education was preferred, and the value of a good education was not understood. This lack of awareness created a concerning situation where parents were unaware of the importance of quality education in the early years of schooling. They were unaware of what was happening in the world outside. Varsha also emphasizes the importance of a good education, stating that offering it for free masked parents’ understanding of the value of a brighter future.

For Varsha, education is the foundation of success in any field, regardless of location or title. Despite the challenges she faced, she remained dedicated to her mission of providing quality education to her students.

How did the Pandemic impact the school?

Varsha expresses her deep concern about how the pandemic impacted her school. With no students around, she found herself in a difficult situation. “The absence of children was emotionally taxing and the lack of face-to-face interaction made it even more challenging.”

The online platform, which was supposed to bridge the gap, presented a new set of obstacles. Poor network connections and the difficulty of handling classes remotely posed a significant challenge for the school leader and her team. Despite these challenges, they took the initiative to provide assignments to all classes. “Children never fully realized the consequences of the pandemic on their education but enjoyed the learning process during this time,” she claims.

Further expressing her excitement when speaking about the support her school received, Varsha mentions, “Varthana was a lifesaver by providing content and helping us keep our students on track. This support came at the right time when everything seemed to be falling apart.” 

The emotional and physical strain that came with the pandemic is something that Varsha and her team will never forget.

Also Read: How Zeal School is improving English proficiency in rural students

What is your strategy for increasing enrollment?

“The school relies on word of mouth rather than publicizing itself. We intend to provide quality education and keep parents informed of what is happening. When parents are aware of the school’s efforts, they become more likely to promote it,” Varsha shares.

How can Varthana support you?

“Continuing to provide the worksheets that were used during the pandemic would help our students improve even more,” she demands.

Mention a few milestones that you are proud of.

Varsha proudly states, “We are pleased with how the public views us as an educational institution. Our school is the third school in the Taluk to receive CBSE affiliation, which is not an easy accomplishment.” 

She concludes, “During the pandemic, some students who had switched to government schools returned to our school and realized the value of the education we provide.”

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