A.GOKULAPADU/KURNOOL: “When we know that we will be made to [drop out from school and] sit at home, why will we bother to have a goal,” said C. Sashirekha, an 11th standard dropout, when asked about her aim in life.
“I wanted to be a doctor. Biology was my favourite subject,” said S.Muskaan (16), the topper of 2015 batch of Zilla Parishad High School of A. Gokulapadu village, about 15 kms from Kurnool.
Muskaan, like five of her classmates, had dropped out of school after 10th standard. Despite having supportive parents and a score of 7.3 grade points, she had chosen not to enroll for intermediate education in Kurnool.
S.Muskaan, the topper of 2016 batch, dropped out of school after 10th standard
The ZPHS, A.Gokulapadu supports classes upto 10th standard after which the villagers need to travel over 15 km to Kurnool city for higher education. Separated from the main road by a 3 km pucca road, the village has no bus service and relies on two-wheelers and erratic autos for transportation.
“It takes over one and a half hours to commute to and fro from Kurnool. To catch a bus, we need to walk 3 km to the main road. Sometimes we get autos, but that’s unreliable, especially in the evenings,” Muskaan added.
The issues with the long commute were further complicated when, in 2015, two intermediate students and an adult were drowned as they were crossing the narrow stretch of river between the village and the main road.
Sashirekha (18) says that since the incident, the already conservative parents are even more cautious in allowing girls to commute to Kurnool.
“Before this incident, 50 per cent of the girls graduating 10th used to be allowed to study further in Kurnool. Now it has decreased to about 25 per cent,” she said.
She is not wrong.
Of the seven girls who graduated from Gokulapadu’s Zilla Parishad High School in 2015, only two have gone for further studies. Of this, only one girl commutes from the village, while the other moved to the city.
A district level archery champion and kabbadi player, Muskaan said that she applied for scholarships to secure admission in a residency school in Kurnool, but was unsuccessful.