Published: 11th September 2019
These artists from Bengaluru will paint 150 govt schools in three days for a cool new makeover
Raghu Poojar, an artist from Bengaluru, speaks about what they are doing to save government schools in Karnataka
While most of us simply complain about the lack of facilities in government schools, there are a few people out there who have taken the initiative to do their bit for them. One such group is of these young artists from Bengaluru who have been painting school walls to make them look beautiful and attract more children to schools across Karnataka. Raghu Poojar, along with his friends who come from various educational backgrounds, started a volunteering campaign called Campus 2 Community. Under this initiative, they have already painted walls of 17 schools in and around Bengaluru. Now, they aim to paint 150 schools in different parts of Karnataka. Raghu, whose mission is to save government schools, says, "I think everyone remembers those days when government schools and their students enjoyed a privilege, but due to a decline in infrastructure, the strength has decreased. Hence, we thought we must do our bit to bring back children to these schools and save them from shutting down. By painting walls with our art, we are turning schools into colourful and fresh learning spaces for students."
How does it work?
Raghu and his friends not only paint the walls of schools located in urban areas, they approach schools situated in rural areas too. They get villagers to join their cause when they are working in rural areas and join hands with localities when working in urban areas. "We approach villagers personally and sensitise them about what they must do to save government schools. Then, we show them pictures of our previous work. While some villagers come forward to fund the various paints and the tool kit we use, others invest their money to install CCTV cameras, provide drinking water facility or even appoint English teachers and pay them from their own pockets. By doing so, we make the locals realise that schools are their responsibility too. The response that we have received has been amazing. There has been a drastic increase in the number of children coming to government schools. Even teachers have thanked us for this initiative."
Telling stories: Artists have also painted stories on the walls of these schools
Bell the cat
Since the group has achieved good results from their work, they have initiated a new project called School Bell, under which, they will paint 150 government schools starting from September 20 to 22, 2019. When we asked them about the reason behind taking up 150 schools, he says, "Marking the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi this year, we have added 150 schools to our list. These schools are divided into clusters depending on the region they belong to. There are totally 10 clusters and 5,000 volunteers who will work with us this time. We are trying to raise funds for the School Bell now. From the funds that we get, a part of it will be allocated not only for painting the walls, but we will provide necessary library and lab equipment, sports kits and first aid kits, charts that create awareness about the environment, health and hygiene, building separate toilets for boys and girls and supplying drinking water. People need not provide us with the funds alone, they can provide us with cab or bus facilities to pick up and drop our volunteers. If not volunteering and funding, people can also refer to us one such government school that needs our attention. They can provide us with the details and we will check it out before we add those schools to our cluster."
Then and Now: Raghu and his friends have refurbished the walls of several schools in rural areas and this in one of those schools
School walls are painted in three phases — compound walls, outer walls of the classrooms and then the inner walls. While the compound walls are painted with pictures and messages like save water, conserve forests and so on, the inner classroom walls will mostly have pictures of eminent personalities or stories from history that children can easily connect with. With regards to the classrooms of classes I to IV, volunteers paint them with cartoon characters and characters from English or Kannada poems. "We use both oil and emulsion paints for painting. Apart from this, there are normal paint brushes, rollers and a sponge which are used while painting. Till now, we have incurred a cost of `40,000 to paint 17 schools. Since we buy paints in huge quantities, it is difficult to work out the exact cost of paints used for each school." he adds.
Girl power: Not just male artists, the group also has many female artists who are really good at their job
Opt for it
Now, you might ask us why it is important to volunteer. As a reply to the question, Raghu says, "Through volunteering, one can develop a sense of gratitude and empathy, develop personality and leadership traits, make a distinction between helping someone, give back to the community, tap the youth's innate desire of being independent in a productive way and enrich the therapeutic essence of serving the community."