Notes from Founder/Secretary of SES (Mr. Kanakaraju)
On behalf of the 250+ children, their parents and the teachers of SES, I would like to extend our gratitude to all the ASHA SV Volunteers and all the well wishers of SES. I & the SES management couldn’t not have pursued our objective of educating the downtrodden section of our society at this scale without your help and commitment.
We will work towards fulfilling our responsibilities with all sincerity and hope to receive the same communication from ASHA in our future efforts as well.
THE SOURCE OF MY INSPIRATION
My father late A. Seshagiri Rao was the founder of S.V.E.S (a telugu medium school) in Vidyanagar, Hyderabad long back prior to the formation of AP state in 1956. He had always regarded education as the best gift that anyone can pass on. My passion towards education started a very young age. I was 17 years old when I helped my father in recruiting students for his school. Me & my brother would bike 5km and educate the parents about the need for sending their children to schools.
The school became very well known in the locality and soon after, the government took over the operations. Today, it has evolved to a degree college aided by the Govt with very good infrastructure (building & playground) and currently offers free education to thousands of students.
This happened to be the source of inspiration for me in starting SES. Ever since the school that my father started has grown into such a big organization touching thousands of lives, I had decided to start up another school in English medium and grow it to the same level.
After helping my father with his school, I decided to stick in the field of education and took up a job as a teacher in a Govt school and continued to offer my sincere services in various schools in Hyd and the old city. During my 40+ years of experience, I observed the good and the bad things about the Government run schools. These schools gave an opportunity for everyone to get educated but at the same time, the quality was missing. There were various shortcomings like lack of motivation for teachers, no punctuality or discipline, shift systems, teacher unions, politics etc. All this was very disturbing to me and as each day passed my conviction and resolve grew to set up a school that overcomes these issues and focuses on providing quality education.
Admissions in SES were given irrespective of Caste or religion. A nominal fee of Rs. 50 per month without any admission fees or donation was collected in the beginning. I used to visit the houses of hut dwellers and motivate them to send their children to our school who were otherwise loitering in the streets.
In the beginning, it was very difficult to motivate the parents as they used to tell me that children can help by supplementing the family income. I used to visit each hut and explain them the need of educating their children so that they can build up their career and need not be put thru a lot of hardship which they as parents were experiencing. Though they used to respond positively and send their children to school, they used to discontinue soon. I used to persistently contact them and press for the reasons. They used to express their inability to pay even the nominal monthly fee that we were charging. In most cases, I used to exempt them from paying the fees and persuade them to send their children to school again.
Gradually, the strength grew to 100 from classes LKG to 7th. Our school offered classes up to 7th standard and made them appear as private candidates for the common examination conducted by the state department of education. In many cases, the parents were not even able to pay the mandatory attendance exemption fees charged by the government to appear of this common entrance test. Again, I used to pay the fee on their behalf to ensure that the whole year of education was not wasted.
DEDICATED STAFF MEMBERS
We at SES have been fortunate to have dedicated staff that was driven by the same goals rather than financial benefits. We were able to recruit qualified teachers who accepted to work on a low salary but maintained high standards of education. For Example, Mr. B. Venkatesam who worked with SES on a meager salary went on to qualify for ISAS cadre in 1995 and has most recently held the postings of Collector and MD of APTDC. Even to this date, in various interviews he speaks very highly of his experience with SES.
IMPARTING SECULAR EDUCATION
As I and my wife are both from the Education Dept, we have been working hard to help the students from economically backward section of the society to build up their career. We used to manage SES out of our personal income. We have been running SEs on secular lines and imparting secular and moral values to the students. Over the years, Hyderabad was prone to many communal disturbances and tensions were always high but in SES, we have been able to maintain communal harmony and teach kids at a very young age on the need for patience and tolerance. Muslim kids lead the Hindu prayers and likewise.
DOOR-TO-DOOR RECRUITING POLICY
We have continued to use the door-to-door policy and in-fact during one of my routine visits to the slum area when I was 70 years; I slipped and fell resulting in two broken bones in my right leg. Soon after my operation, I continued my efforts and even to this date continue the visits and try and encourage the parents to send their children to the school.
SUPPORT FROM ASHA
Both my sons are settled in California and during one of my visits to the bay area, we approached ASHA SV and explained our aims and objectives. We submitted our project proposal in detail and after a site visit conducted by ASHA volunteers in Hyderabad; your chapter had approved our program. We were very thankful and excited as we could immediately increase the strength from around 100 prior to the funding to almost 250+ students now. We no longer collect even a single rupee and for me personally, this is a very rewarding experience. From 2007-’07 academic year, we have been adding a class each year and for the first time this year, we had students pass out of our 10th class.
After receiving the first year’s aid on a temporary FCRA, we applied for a permanent clearance from the Govt. of India. The home dept called for the CBI report and even though the CBI officer had given a favorable report, the application was kept pending for almost 2 years. We made all possible effiorts to expedite the process including recommendations of the school from IAS officers etc and finally the approval came after 25 months.
During this time, we couldn’t receive the funds from ASHA and had to face a lot of hardship with the lack of funds. Despite of this, we never let this impact the quality of education or the functioning of the school. We were able to manage with the help of funds from my sons and short loans from people in the community.
FUNCTIONING OF THE SCHOOL:
We conduct parent-staff interactions every month to understand and resolve any issues.
For the students who are weak in certain subjects, special classes are conducted after normal school hours throughout the year.
Annual exams for 9th class students are held earlier than the usual time so that we can start preparing them for the 10th standard in advance without even the summer break
FIRST BATCH OF 10TH CLASS STUDENTS:
First batch appeared for the class 10th Public examinations and out of the 6 students that appeared 5 of them got thru the exam and 1 student failed in 1 subject. She will appear for instant examination to be conducted in July’10 and we are confident that she will get thru this instant exam. Our staff members tried their level best in paying individual attention to each of these students.
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