The little-known educational tale of Soraba

Shimoga Taluk

How a town with a population of two lakhs went on to become an educational hub

Soraba, a little town located 360km from the state capital of Bangalore, may not ring a bell at once, but a deeper exploration of this taluk gives you a different picture.

With a population of 200,089, as per Census India, the taluk boasts a very impressive literacy rate of 78.67 percent, almost four percent more than that of Karnataka, which stands at 75 percent.

Mr. H.Subashchandra, the headmaster of the Government Urdu School in the taluk, attributes the high literacy rate to a general awareness among the public about the importance of education.

He credited the educational programs in the taluk, citing that they were well-structured and urged the need to have higher educational institutions in Soraba.

The next step, according to him was to introduce English newspapers in the taluk, which could lead to students and the general public getting exposed to a wider variety of issues around India and the world.

Soraba has 350 primary schools, 50 high schools and 6 junior colleges, located in different areas around the taluk. Almost all of the schools run on the Secondary School Leaving Certificate (SSLC) syllabus and while the education imparted through the system is exhaustive, more could be done to further enhance it.

Mr. S Krishna, the Principal of the Government PWD School, said that with many SSLC schools already in the taluk, the next objective was to introduce the Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE) syllabus as well as the Indian Certificate of Secondary Examinations (ICSE) syllabus to further improve the education system.

Mr. H Subhashchandra, Principal at the Government Urdu School, Soraba

Mr.Vinod B.J, the Secondary Divisional Assistant at the Taluk office in Soraba, emphasised on developing more educational institutions in the taluk. That would mean lower outflux of students to other parts of the state, admitting that since the time colleges had been established in the taluk, there had been an influx of people.

The role of Bangarappa

Every part of India, at its nascent stage, had one or two leaders, who played a major role in its development. For Soraba, that leader was local man S Bangarappa, who contested several elections from this constituency during his time as a political leader.

Suresh, a teacher at the V.P Government School, complemented his role in the growth of education in the taluk.

“He had a big role in the growth of education in the taluk, he did a lot for education in the taluk,” he said.

Ramesh, a Kannada teacher at the Government Urdu School, thought otherwise.

“He did not have such a big role; I don’t think he took the constituency too seriously. He did put certain plans in place and constructed a few colleges for the taluk. He could have done a lot more, but his contribution was satisfactory,” he said.

 

The PWD School in Soraba

The Malnad influence and its effects

Presence of schools in any region solves just one part of the puzzle; cultivating the interest to study among the students becomes the next primary objective.

With a competent structure already in place, that is not as big a headache in this taluk.

​Ms. Banu, a Social Studies teacher at the Government Urdu School, admitted that the taluk had a great influence from the Malnad education system and said that the aim for the students was to match the numbers obtained by those there.

“I think Soraba has a lot of Malnad influence, so there is a real interest for education. If you compare the labour area to this taluk, it isn’t as strong financially. Here there are a lot of government facilities and the children are availing them,” she said.

“Students here should aim to get more than 95 percent. That is the only way they can beat Udupi, who usually top the SSLC exams. We were 6th last year, but have climbed to 2nd now,” she added.

She also alluded to the presence of Indian Technical Institutes (ITI) in the taluk and the role they have played.

“There is a lot of scope for it. A lot of kids with potential can use it both in India and overseas, hence I feel it is prioritised here,” she said.

​Ramesh added that according to him, the girls in the taluk had more interest to study than boys.

“Students are very keen to read, particularly the girls, who seem more ambitious to do well than boys. I think it is the same scenario elsewhere as well,” he said.

Ayesha Sayeeda, a 9th standard student studying at the Government Urdu school, felt that the lack of discrimination in her school allowed her to study and do well with very little disturbance.

“The best part about the education system in Soraba is that the teachers here don’t discriminate anyone and look at all students as one. Any child here can succeed without second thoughts,” she said.

Nazneen Taj, studying in the same school as Ayesha, only a year older to her, credits her interests in studying to the generous faculty in her school.

 

Ayesha Sayeeda, a 9th standard student studying at the Government Urdu school, felt that the lack of discrimination in her school allowed her to study and do well with very little disturbance.

Nazneen Taj, studying in the same school as Ayesha, only a year older to her, credits her interests in studying to the generous faculty in her school.

Impact of RTE

It is now eight years since India implemented the Right To Education (RTE) act, which defines the importance of free education to children between the age of 6 and 14.

Amitha S, a member in the administration department  of the VLS International School in Bangalore and someone who extensively works on the filing RTE applications, felt that the act had managed to reach its target goal, but added that it still had its own some drawbacks to counter.

“RTE to some extent has been quite successful. They have reached the target population, whom they wanted to reach and people have realised the importance, they are aware about the act and are enrolling their kids.”

“However, there are a few provisions in the act like no detainment of the child if he/she isn’t doing well.

“Those who are aware of these rules, they are not laying the emphasis on education and gaining of knowledge. They are aware their child will progress to the next standard, whether he/s she studies or not.

“So, the knowledge acquisition isn’t happening. But other things apart, I think it has reached the target population and I notice that the students coming through the RTE applications are extremely creative, when they are pushed a bit,” she said.

She also felt that for smaller towns in India to grow, they did require higher educational institutions.

“Definitely. I have studied in detail about how the Indian constitution brought about changes in the field of education. With regards to education, our constitution was last amended in 1976.

“Various commissions were brought into the picture and those concentrated only on the primary, secondary and higher secondary education, up till Standard 12th.

“Very little provision has been made to pursue higher education. So this being the scenario, there is a dire need to have professional colleges and higher education centre in villages so that there is lesser migration and more of education in their hometown,” she said.

She further credited the advancement of technology for smaller towns to have understood the importance of education.

“I think with the advent of technology and internet, there is a lot of exposure. Because of that, I think they have realised that education is quite important. Secondly, the present generation of the parents might be facing issues regarding agriculture, but they would want their children to be well-educated and build a solid career for themselves,” she added.

Srikant Wad, a member of the Centre For Policy Research said that while the RTE had not brought massive changes to the system, it had enhanced private schooling and made it more viable for parents to get their ward admitted to them.

“RTE has not changed things drastically. It has mandated certain specifications in recognising schools, in setting up schools which included restrictions on teacher-pupil ratio, infrastructure in schools etc.

“However, it did bring about a drastic change in private schooling due to section 12 1(C). A lot of parents who did not have access to them tried their luck with Section 12 1(C) and getting their children admitted under 25 percent quota for underprivileged children,” he said.

He stressed that the road ahead for education in small town India was to ensure state government take up measures to setup school and also complemented the RTE for making the systems more accountable.

The challenge ahead for Soraba

Soraba may have emphasised on a good education system, but challenges for putting that to use remains.

Job creation in the taluk remains a concern and fewer employment opportunities has resulted in greater migration to other surrounding taluks.

“There are no facilities here. We need more industries, qualified students need jobs here. It would help if students after qualification get placed in industries in the taluk itself rather than migrate outside,” Suresh added.

“Fundamentally, the taluk has not grown yet. Most of the educated personnel are migrating to other parts like Sagara. Infrastructure-wise Bangarappa did not contribute much. However, there has been some growth but the educated public are looking to go to other taluks in search of jobs,” Ramesh said.

“The public here don’t have much scope for jobs; they have to move to Bengaluru and other areas. There is a lot more importance given to agriculture due to the large amounts of land that is available,” Ms. Banu said.

With a strong base in place, it is now up to Soraba to take the necessary measures in order to get even better and improve on the literacy rate front.

With three years to go for the new literacy rate count to come, it remains to be seen if they can put in the effort and improve and exceed the surrounding taluks.

 

The different literacy rates at Soraba

Review Overview

Summary

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