Published: 24th December 2019
This 18-year-old paints government school classrooms in Bengaluru every weekend. Here's why
Bengaluru-based Ankith Ratakonda, his friends and excited children arm themselves with brushes to brighten up the walls of government schools and have a ball while doing so
Yay, the weekend is here! Well, almost. While people like us look forward to the weekend just so that we can laze around the house, Ankith Ratakonda has completely different reasons. He, along with his friends, visit government schools in Bengaluru and brighten up the otherwise dull walls of these temples of learning. And not just with random colours, these paintings are actually of educational value as they borrow concepts from their textbooks, like aquatic life, solar systems and more, and bring it alive on the rundown walls.
Say it with colours
It was in class VI when this young gun used to teach Math and English to class I students of government schools as a part of Step Up For India, an NGO that helps people volunteer to teach different subjects in government schools. "I noticed that attendance in class was never consistent and I wondered why this was the case," shares the 18-year-old. He figured it might be because of the unfriendly, cracked and dusty walls which just did not set the tone for any subject that was taught. And for someone who has been painting since class III, he understood the importance of art and the role it plays when it comes to self-expression. Thus, this student of Greenwood High School, Bengaluru started The Teaching Brush, an initiative which involves government school children and his schoolmates, who together add colour to the walls of schools.
What the California-born youngster did not expect is how tedious it would be. "First we clean the walls and scrub them really well. The fact that the walls are bumpy and uneven adds to the trouble sometimes. After that, we apply a coat of primer and then proceed to paint on topics pre-discussed with the principal," says Ankith and adds that it took three months for them to paint a solar system-themed mural on the walls of Government Sindhi Model Primary School. He and his team have helped make government schools like Government High School, Immadihalli and Gunjur Government High School bright as well. He has had ample help from the Rotary Club and the paints were sponsored by Berger Paints India.
Carry forward the legacy
Ankith and Co usually dedicate two hours of their time, except for when exams are around the corner, of course, during the weekends and they, together with students of government schools, have painted a globe, animals, the alphabet in Kannada, Hindi and English and a lot more. This certainly helps children learn better and has even stabilised attendance, for which, he has been appreciated by principals. And what are the lessons he has learnt? "I have learnt how to convince people, which can be quite exhausting frankly and it's a delight to teach children how to paint," he says with a smile. One thing he knows for sure, he is in class XII and after he passes out, he wants a junior to carry forward this project so that it can help more and more children brighten up their classrooms and lessons.
Scenes from their work