Even as the nation prepares to celebrate the 144th birth anniversary of the Father of the Nation on Wednesday, the school in Rajkot where Mahatma Gandhi received his primary education is battling for survival with dwindling number of students.
Enrolling more than 1,800 students till 2001, the Mohandas Gandhi Vidyalaya has only 177 students this year. The state government-run school has a sanctioned strength of 420 students of general and science streams, with more than half of its 50 rooms remaining locked. As an indicator of its waning glory, the southern wing of the 150-year-old building has been spared for housing the office of District Education Officer of Rajkot for the last four years. Then known as Alfred High School, Gandhi had studied here from 1880 to 1887. The school is also the alma mater of former chief minister Keshubhai Patel.
The fall of the school started after the building was damaged in the 2001 earthquake and it had to be shifted to another premises. The building was restored at the cost of Rs 3 crore in 2003. Meanwhile, cropping up of private schools in the city hit it hard as the MG Vidyalaya struggled to match competitiveness of private institutes. This threw the Gujarati-medium school in a downward spiral. In the last seven years, the school has not even once achieved 60 per cent results in Class X and XII board examinations, eroding the confidence of parents. In 2012, not a single student of science stream could clear the exams.
In a bid to revive the school, the Education department transferred all but one of the 20 teachers this year. They were replaced by teachers who have achieved 100 per cent results in their respective subjects in board exams.
“Our priority is to improve board results of students to win back confidence of parents. We are conducting extra classes for students,” said Mukesh Khokhani, in-charge principal.
DEO Jivabhai Visiya said that the state Education secretary visited the school last week and suggested three ways to improve the level of teaching-learning activity. “According to the secretary’s suggestions, we are focusing on e-learning, asking parents