Sulogna Mehta| TNN | Updated: Feb 26, 2018

DHARABHOGAPURAM (RAMBILLI): In an era of classroom-centric school education where lessons about agriculture and textiles are relegated to a couple of chapters in text-books and forgotten, there’s a unique school around 60 kms from Vizag city in Dharabhogapuram where 140 students of BCT Residential High School are taught to grow their own vegetables organically and spin their own clothes by using the charkha. Besides the subjects taught in the class, the poor village students are also given vocational skill training so that they can learn as well as earn and become self-reliant.

Run Free of cost by social-welfare organisation Bhagavatula Charitable Trust (BCT), the school and the trust sticks to the belief in the intrinsic capability of every person to help oneself and be self-reliant. Located close to Haripuram and a few metres from the ancient Panchadarla temple, the school, which houses students from sixth to tenth standard, uses the term learning centres instead of classrooms. Besides the 140 boys and girls, 18 deaf and dumb students are also taught in a special class.

Listing the subjects taught, D Nookaraju, the social science teacher said, “The students are taught academic subjects like Telugu, Hindi, English, Mathematics, Social Studies and Science. Apart from these, vocational training is given daily in optional subjects including computer, electrical, tailoring and embroidery while horticulture and vegetable growing as well as khadi spinning is compulsory for all.” Their students K. Naveen and D Balaveramani have also won state award (second prize) in 2015 for their science project Hydroponics or Farming Technique without the use of soil and mud. They also grow vegetable and flowering plants in parts of the 50-acre land where their school and hostels are situated and use these for self-consumption and daily use in kitchen

But the most interesting feature of the school is spinning of khadi from raw cotton. BV Parameshwar Rao, the founder of the BCT, had been to Gujarat several years ago and the khadi-making process transformed him into a Gandhian. Charka machines were installed in the school for spinning cotton and the tradition is on for the last 15 years or so. P Anantalakshmi, the teacher for this section, explained, “Each student spins around 2,000 metres of cotton per day, which are made into bundles of 500 metres each. Every two-three months, these bundles are send to weavers in Kothapeta, around 10 kms away for weaving. The weaved cloth material is sent back to the school, where the children get these dyed, stitched, embroidered and tailored to make dresses that they can wear. The students also earn some money for spinning.”

Students D Nagamani, K Sanyasi Naidu, K Arjun Rao, B Shivaji, who were enthusiastically spinning the cotton, said in unison that charkha spinning is one of the classes they enjoy the most. “We feel proud to learn and make the fashionable clothes people wear from a roll of cotton. It’s also a matter of pride and interest that we know how to grow fruits, flowers and vegetables that every household uses daily,” averred Nagamani, an eighth class student.

Speaking about the significance of having khadi spinning charkha as a compulsory subject for students, BCT secretary B. Sri Ram Murty said, “Charkha spinning is therapeutic. It enhances the concentration level and thinking ability of the students. It synchronises the head, heart and hand, thereby leading to mental, emotional and physical well-being of the children. Instead of being dependent, the students are trained to be self-reliant and a sense of entrepreneurship develops right from a young age. In turn they can be the agents of change in villages. After all, our Trust is based on the belief — Our country’s prosperity lies in the well-being of our villages.”

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