Indian school breaks cycle of poverty with music
By Ashleigh Whitehill
A rural school in India’s south is taking a unique approach to education, offering disadvantaged children tuition in traditional Indian music and performing arts, alongside academic subjects.
Kalkeri Sangeet Vidyalaya (KSV) was established in 2002 to provide local children with education opportunities they would not otherwise have.
The school, located about 20 kilometres from Dharwad in northern Karnataka, provides more than 250 students with education and music tuition, accommodation, meals and healthcare at no cost.
A diverse group of locals, teachers and international volunteers ensure the children, aged from six to 23, are kept healthy and happy so they can complete a timetable of music, art and academics six days a week.
KSV Director, Adam Woodward, says the school’s dual curriculum is beneficial for students both culturally and academically.
“There are many links between music and linguistics, music and maths, music and creativity…so there are a lot of benefits no matter what career path [the children] choose,” says Mr Woodward.
By educating the younger generations in traditional Indian culture, Mr Woodward believes the school is helping to protect and continue India’s unique heritage.
“In our very small way, we’re adding to the preservation of this culture, which is something that is dying out,” says Mr Woodward.
The school offers classes in a selection of traditional instruments including sitar, tabla, violin and harmonium, alongside dance and vocals classes.
Eighth grade student Vishal, 13, is learning the tabla, something he says helped him settle into life at KSV. The friendliness of staff members was also a key part of his easy transition.
“At the start I didn’t like being here because my parents weren’t here, but then the volunteers took care of us like parents so now I like living here … I like it more than at home,” says Vishal.
Violin student Tabsum, 16, says the KSV volunteers are an invaluable education resource.
“The volunteers are always helping us to read English, to write and to improve our skills, which is so helpful for our future life,” says Tabsum.
Helping students develop the skills necessary for adult life is a key focus at KSV. Mr Woodward says many of these skills are learnt through participation in the school’s unique curriculum.
“Having the children intensively involved in an arts study program at this age raises their level of confidence and their level of self-esteem. Confidence is something that is very important for their studies and also for their adult life,” says Mr Woodward.
To further their personal and professional development, the school also offers regular information and career advice sessions to ensure each student is given the opportunity to explore whatever career path they desire.
These sorts of sessions provide the socially and economically disadvantaged children opportunities to break free from the cycle of poverty that exists in their home communities.
“School is helping us a lot,” says Tabsum. “After this I want to become an electrician or if my mother and father want, I can be a Bollywood film dancer or actor.”
[Feature photo by Nick Parkin]