This school fought dwindling funds to keep hope of education alive in Karnataka village

The school, run by BMV Education Trust named after Bharat Ratna M Visvesvaraya, was founded in the 1980s

(July 24, 2022)

Basavaraj returned to Bhaktharahalli, a village in Karnataka’s Bangalore rural district, four years ago as a science graduate to teach at his village school. People of his parents’ generation had to walk kilometres to reach a high school, Basavaraj was thanking his stars for this opportunity.

The way was paved for Basavaraj and 600 other graduates from villages around Bhaktharahalli to aspire for and obtain education through the village’s BMV Primary and High School, which narrowly escaped closure in 2008 due to lack of funds.

The school, run by BMV Education Trust named after Bharat Ratna M Visvesvaraya, was founded in the 1980s by Kalappa Lakshmaiah and his friends from the village as a gift to young boys and girls of the village who had to walk at least 10 km to reach the nearest high school.

The school became a reality but with limited resources, it ran into financial problems. The state government was supporting them with funds for primary education but the Trust was finding it difficult to run the high school.

Lakshmaiah, now Founder Secretary of the trust, recalls the tough times. “We did not have enough money to even pay salaries. We were on the verge of closure.”

As the school was on the brink of closure, the Trust collaborated with Smile Foundation’s ‘Change the Game India’ programme where Lakshamaiah and others got training in how to raise funds, organise programmes and others. “We managed to raise funds and are now running. We have 18 staff, including 15 teachers,” Lakshmaiah said.

The impact of the school in the village is huge, Lakshmaiah told DH. He proudly recalls that most of those who have got degrees in the village over the years are young women. He says the school also managed to curb the practice of child marriage to a very large extent as girl students are specifically made aware of the problem of child marriages.

“We have 300 students from the 4-5 villages around Bhaktharahalli now. We hope to grow more,” he said.

Smile Foundation Co-Founder and Executive Trustee Santanu Mishra said their idea is to work with community-based organisations and social entrepreneurs through the ‘Change the Game India’ programme. “I believe this is the best way to bring sustainable change at the grassroots because these organisations have the last mile connectivity to implement welfare programmes and government schemes effectively,” he said.

“In the last two decades, we have worked with a large number of CBOs, not just training them but also hand-holding them at every step. Through Change the Game India we are taking forward this vision of enabling and empowering many more community initiatives,” he added.

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