MANGALURU: A school started with just 12 students on an open stage by these two young women two decades back, has grown from strength to strength and now imparts knowledge to around 1,167 students – that too exclusively from rural areas.
This wouldn’t have been possible if Shamitha Rao and Renita Lobo, educated in Mangaluru city, had not set their priorities right – to educate the rural children.
Being women, they thought outside the box during 1995 and in spite of struggles and humiliation, the duo were successful in establishing Mother Teresa Memorial Education Trust in Shankarnarayana, Udupi district. The education institution, which is 110 kms away from Mangaluru, empowers rural children with education.
“It all began during 1995, after our graduation we were sent to a village named Siddapur in Kundapur Taluk to serve in a private school which had just started. That was for the first time we were exposed to rural environment – Rural school, rural people, and hardly any access to quality education.
Being born and brought up in Mangaluru city, it was very hard for us to accept that life where little ones were so much deprived of basic quality education. We served in that school for two years after which our parents wanted us to come back to Mangaluru. One evening when we were packing up all our belongings, some parents came to us with gratitude and said they did not want us to go.
Meanwhile, our house owner suggested us to open our own school. We both looked at each other’s face. That night we knelt and prayed to God and decided firmly to open a school which could be afforded by any section of the society. We wanted to educate the children of the uneducated parents unlike other schools who wanted to teach only the educated parents’ children,” recall Shamita and Renita.
Shamitha and Renita, 40, graduated from St Agnes College, Mangaluru and pursued MA through distance education from University of Mysuru.
Shankarnarayana amidst forest area is economically backward and nearby village areas are affected by Naxalites. “We were looking for a place which is small and backward. There was a call from within to start the school here as this was a very small village with small population of not more than 10,000 people. We started everything from scratch. We were very young to make a great plan with a big budget. We knew only thing that we wanted to teach the small children in the best way possible. This small beginning has a great ending.
In 1998, we hired an open stage from village Panchayat on a nominal rent. In the hall we accommodated two classes (LKG & UKG) for 12 students. For the other expenses we used our little savings of two years. Today institution has grown till PUC II with good results,” said the duo sharing their tale.
The institution is known to be one of the best in Udupi district. Every year more than 75% of the students come out with distinction. This year in district, the school is in the top most positions by QPI (quality Progressive Innings) in SSLC result. Even in PUC out of 5 years’ results, thrice they have secured cent percent.
People, family mocked us:
It was not a cake-walk for Shamita and Renita during their initial days. “People mocked us saying that we will close the institution after three or four years. Meanwhile, our families too did not support our ideas. Even government officials during school documentation works kept on pestering and harassing us because we were two young women with no prior experience. But the constant support from donors, especially Bishop of Mangalore Most Rev Aloysius Paul D’Souza kept us going to reach our goal,” they said.