Tent School keeps Dasara Mahouts’ children busy
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Tent School keeps Dasara Mahouts’ children busy

September 1, 2022

Talents of children are out in the open and in full flow

Mysore/Mysuru: All these days they were going to schools on the fringes of forests and adjacent to tribal settlements. But now, these children of Mahouts and Kavadis are having a gala time combined with learning and fun activities inside the Mysore Palace as they have accompanied their family heads and relatives who are taking care of the Dasara elephants.

Dasara is a double delight for these children not just because they get to wear new clothes and eat delicious food but because they also get to learn dance and drama and at the same time study their regular school syllabus.

The Tent School or a makeshift school has been established to take competency classes for 13 children from ages 6 to 16 in order to fill the gap caused due to their absence from regular classes in school. This is to ensure that the children do not miss their classes and eventually drop out of school because of their temporary migration to Mysuru where they stay for over two months.

An initiative of the Department of Public Instruction, six teachers have been posted to the school who will be taking classes for the children as per the curriculum with regard to their class. Along with studies, entertainment and games, the children are provided with lunch.

Novel initiative in 2004

In fact, the Department started the novel initiative in 2004 and over the years, the initiative has gone popular. This year, there is a likelihood of establishing the school in two buildings as there are more children, said Manjula, the Nodal Officer of the Tent School.

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 In addition to the 13 children who are learning at the Tent School now, there will be more children accompanying the Mahouts and Kavadis of five elephants who are scheduled to arrive in the Palace in the second batch. There are over 20 to 25 children who are set to join the school and in all, the Department is expecting the enrolment of 40 children.                   

While teacher Noor Fathima takes English and Mathematics, Lakshmi teaches Science and Mosin Taj teaches Kannada and Social Science. Along with them, the art teacher Mahadevu and Subbalakshmi too engage the children in various activities. 

Bridging the edu gap

Before the initiative began in 2004, these children either helped their families in feeding and bathing the elephants, ran errands or just remained idle. “As they come to Mysuru leaving their schools, a gap was created and as such, they forgot the chapters they had studied. Some even lost interest in going back to school and would simply drop out. The Tent School helps these children engage in education and also enjoy their vacation,” said Manjula.

Classes begin at 9.30 am and they have regular classes till 1.30 pm and post lunch, they are trained in drama and dance and are provided with a platform to showcase their talents, said Noor Fathima, who has been teaching in this Tent School for years.

On the last day of the camp, the Department gives them an attendance certificate to show that they have attended the school for 45 days so that they can join back to their schools and continue their education, she added.

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Interestingly, the teachers too participate in the song and dance activities and the talents of the children are on full display games and cultural activities. “Though they are close to nature and is a daunting task to keep them in one place, they are fast learners and are highly intelligent. They just need an opportunity, that’s all,” Noor    Fathima said.

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