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Project Granthaalayah

First Guru Kalam Granthaalayah (GKG) set up at BBMHS
Vaisyambhagom in Alappuzha Dist

Shantha TeacherVaisyambhagom (Alappuzha, Kerala), Nov 9: The Bishop Benanvantore Memorial High School (BBMHS) situated on the bank of the Pookaitha river (a tributary of the Pamba) in Vaisyambhagom, on Thursday became the first educational institution in India to be enrolled under the Guru Kalam Granthaalayah (GKG) mission.

GKG is a pilot project of the Bengaluru-based Inspired Indian Foundation (IIF) and Abdul Kalam Foundation, Rameswaram. IIF has been officially spearheading many missions of former President Dr A P J Abdul Kalam since 2007.

Under the GKG mission, libraries will be set up across village schools in India in a phased manner. The second GKG will be set up at a government school in Athani, a village on the Karnataka-Maharashtra border.

On Thursday, at a simple event at BBMHS, Headmistress Annie Chandy received a certificate from IIF representatives, according the school the status of the first school under the GKG mission.

The first lot of 50 inspiring books in English and Malayalam was handed over to the school. The school will receive more books in a phased manner, based on the progress report it generates every month.

After the brief ceremony, the students took part in a participatory talk series by an IIF member, titled An Idea Called India. Schools enrolled under the GKG mission are enjoined to form a Library Committee consisting of teachers, students, parents and alumni. IIF will depute a volunteer to act as Mentor to every school.

“The idea of the GKG mission — with the tagline Shut the Mobiles, Spread the Books — is to divert the attention of children from excessive use of mobiles phones and social media sites. Virtually every child has become an addict of social media now, and GKG aims to bring students back to the reading habit,” said Dr Uma Devi, a senior dental specialist based out of Vandanam and an IIF volunteer, who spoke on the occasion.

Former Kerala hockey player Gigi Thomas and PTA president Biju P.S. also spoke on the occasion. Five unsung heroes of the school — Mohanan Nair and Rekha (a father-daughter duo who cook), Sony Devasia (sweeper), Juliet A and Jaimon N V (both peons) — were honoured on the occasion.

Ahead of the launch of the GKG mission, BBMHS had upgraded its old library. The private-aided school is the lone institution under the Vijayapuram Diocese in Alappuzha district.

It was established as an Upper Primary School by Rev Fr Stanley Xavier on June 5, 1950 to provide education to the children of the poor farmers and other lower-income families in the area. In 1982, Rev Fr Peter D'Cruz got the school upgraded to a high school.

Currently, the school has 234 students, mainly from a poor background. There are 12 teaching and five non-teaching staff members.

Dr Nazeema Maraikayar, niece of former President Dr Kalam and Chairperson of Abdul Kalam International Foundation, Rameswaram, said in a communication that BBMHS must aim to become a model institution by 2020. “Our idea is to set up GKGs in deserving schools after a thorough verification process. Dr Kalam always felt that the only way to take India closer to becoming a developed nation is through books and knowledge. We are delighted that BBMHS has become the first school in India to be enrolled under the GKG project,” Dr Nazeema said.

Since its inception, IIF has kept all its activities away from the spotlight, with the sole aim of focusing on work at the ground level, sans noise.