EDUCATION WITH ESTEEM
The Government higher secondary school in Vagarayampalayam was like any other village government school. But that was until Elamurugan took charge as headmaster about three years ago. Within months, with improved standards and upgraded facilities, the institution be- came a role model to the several other government schools in the area.
“I wanted to make it on a par with private schools. When government school students interact with private school students, they tend to develop an inferiority complex. I wanted to change this,” he said. “Now, our students are confident about facing any situation,” added the 51-year old, who has been working in government schools for the last 21 years.
Fifty-one-year-old E Elamurugan upped the enrollment in this village school with better facilities, financial help and a counselling center.
“The first step towards inculcating confidence among students in government schools is to give them identity cards. I have been putting in my own money every year to get photo- graphs clicked for the cards and distribute them among students,” he said. This year, a fresh batch of ID cards is ready to be distributed to students.
What makes Elamurugan’s work commendable is that he continues to follow up with the students even after they have cleared Class XII examinations, all the way until they are enrolled in colleges. To ensure this is done, he has also formed a career guidance team that helps students pursue the degrees of their choice. “We provide financial assistance to students who cannot afford to pursue higher studies. So far, we have provided full financial assistance to seven students,” he said.
An important step towards ensuring students don't drop out of school is building trust with their parents. ‘‘We do this by constantly interacting with them through parent teacher meetings. We hope, in the future, enrolment will cross 1,000,” said Elamurugan. The school, which had 908 students in 2018 now has a total of 930 students. It also has a counselling center to help reduce stress among students.
“The parents of many of our students are daily wage laborers. Sometimes, their family problems affect the students’ mental health and peace. That is why we came up with the idea of free counselling. If we find that the students are highly disturbed, we reach out to their parents as well,” he explained.
In order to build the right environment for learning, Elamurugan, along with his students and teachers, has developed a park around the school ground, which the students help maintain.