Maddibanda, a village in Chintoor Mandal, has not seen a school in generations, the concept of education has never existed in their lives. The villagers belong to a tribal community which comes under the classification, Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group.
The villagers lead a nomadic life and dependent on the forest produce for their livelihood. They go down the hill every Friday to sell the forest produce and buy weekly supplies. There is an hour-long walk to the nearest hamlet in the village, and the farthest one is located about four hours from Boddu Gudam, after which there is no lane. The villagers are unaware of the particular distance, their only way to calculate it is in the form of the number of hills they cross.
Venkata Ramana Akalu, is the first Deputy Collector in 20 years to walk the distance and enter the most remote hamlets in the region six months ago. He has reached out to the villagers by convincing them to set up a residential school for the children in the district.
Today, 28 children sit under the bamboo and thatched roof structure to obtain informal education because of his efforts. Ramana says that maybe one day a few of them will migrate to mainstream education and no longer lead a primitive lifestyle.
“Funds from the ITDA were used to hire a teacher who would teach through activity-based learning,” Ramana says, adding, “The children are taught rhymes, and mathematics using local resources like mud. They’re taught basics like numbers and alphabets in Telugu and English using seeds.”
Ramana says that the project is a success solely because of the willingness of the villagers. “Parents from other hamlets are closely observing the school’s activities. I hope more children take to education, and if successful, this model can be replicated in other tribal villages as well,” he says.