Quality Education For All: This School Leader’s Vision For His Village In Hubli

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Good Shepherd's English Medium School, Hubli

Diavanandam Bommaji, Good Shepherd’s English Medium School, Hubli

Diavanandam Bommaji is a visionary leader who leads by example, seeing the potential in every child and prioritizing the needs of others before his own.

Slow and steady wins the race

Diavanandam has transformed the school from its humble beginnings. He doesn’t view the school as a success or struggle story, but as a journey. A journey that started in 2003 with a vision to provide quality education to the children of his village. A journey that has been on for almost 19 years, with ups and downs, joys and sorrows, victories and defeats. A journey that has been guided by simplicity, hard work, effort, focus and determination.

Although many might perceive him as a miracle worker, Diavanandam actually believes and depends on hardwork and perseverance. He prioritizes quality and impact over fame or glory and upholds his values and principles with integrity and honesty.

Diavanandam is not alone in this journey. He has a team of dedicated teachers and support staff who share his vision and passion. Together, they work as a family, supporting and caring for each other. They follow a simple routine of schooling but make it meaningful and enjoyable for their students. They conduct all curricular, co-curricular, and extracurricular activities with enthusiasm and creativity.

They are the Good Shepherd’s family, and they are proud of it.

Diavanandam Bommaji

Background and inspiration

Diavanandam used to travel 12-14 km from his village to the city every day where he worked as a lecturer in a PUC college. He was a graduate with an M.Sc. and B.Ed. and was happy and content with his job at the time.

However, he also had a dream, born out of compassion and empathy, and fueled by his love for his village and its people. He noticed that many children from his village had to attend the same school in the city where he had previously worked as a headmaster. He saw their parents sacrificing their work and time to accompany them or wait for them near the school, and struggling to find good education for their children.

Whenever he asked why they didn’t send their children to a nearby school, the response was always the same: “There is no good English medium school in the village.” They wanted their children to have access to better education and a better future, and this very plight of the parents inspired Diavanandam to start Good Shepherd in his village.

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

Challenges

Diavanandam left his comfortable job as a lecturer to pursue a risky profession as a school leader. However, he had to start his school with only a few students in lower classes and in a rented building. He also had to face bureaucratic hurdles in obtaining permission and renewal from the BEO department. In addition, he had to deal with financial constraints caused by irregular and insufficient fee collections from parents, who were mostly poor farmers. Furthermore, he had to take sole responsibility for educating students who received no support or involvement from their uneducated parents. 

Coping with increasing competition from other private English schools that emerged in his village was also a challenge. “Our school was the one and only English medium school in the village, but now due to many private English schools, competition has increased,” expressed the school leader with a heavy heart.

Despite these challenges, Diavanandam demonstrated determination and resilience and pledged not to compromise on the quality or standards of education in his school.

Covid effects and learning loss

“Like every other school in India, Covid has had a significant adverse impact on our school too. With school closures, everything came to a standstill. No classes, no students, and no fees meant that the school couldn’t function,” said Diavanandam melancholically. 

The number of Leave Certificates (LCs) increased, and he had to watch his students and their parents suffer from the health and economic impacts of the virus. He had to lose more than 150 students who shifted to government schools due to financial difficulties or lack of awareness. Parents thought, “Since no school is functioning, and students will stay at home, why pay fees for a private school? Let’s shift to a government school as there are no fees.”

The lack of classes had a severe effect on studies and learning. Although online classes were attempted as a stopgap, they couldn’t reach every student. Consequently, when the school reopened for normal classes, the teachers witnessed significant learning loss in students, particularly in the lower grades.

Coping with learning loss

The school leader strictly instructed the teachers to identify the learning levels of each child in each class and teach them accordingly. “This strategy helped improve learning levels, but it hasn’t yet reached the expected outcome,” he said. The Unlock Worksheets and Unlock Books by Varthana provided remedial learning support for sure. “We are recovering, slowly.”

The school believes that its quality and standards are good enough to generate positive word-of-mouth. “Despite the presence of many schools in the vicinity, our school has earned a good reputation. We are confident that enrollment will increase,” Diavanandam responded humbly.

Achievements

The school is known for its quality and standard of teaching. Being recognized as one of the standard schools is a proud achievement. Additionally, regular good SSLC results have positioned this school among the top three schools in their cluster. Furthermore, students’ participation in taluka-level sports and their success in winning prizes is also a source of pride for the school.

Varthana and the school

When the school first started, the school leader invested funds from small loans with lower interest rates. However, with many debts still to be cleared and the need for more financing, Varthana was the only organization to extend financial support. “We are thankful to Varthana,” acknowledged the school leader.

Varthana’s STP and Unlock books have provided academic solutions that have benefited students and teachers.

Future Plans

The school leader wants to relocate a part of the school from a rented building to a new building on the school’s own premises. The goal is to improve the infrastructure and add another floor to the school building. However, the school is currently facing financial constraints and poor fee payment response from parents. Therefore, adding new and innovative teaching materials and resources is not currently possible for the school.

The school’s aim is to provide quality education and become a standard school. The school leader believes that a simple yet progressive approach is what will work best for achieving this goal.

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