For a student, school is his or her second home. The ties one forms with their school cannot be broken easily, even years after leaving. No wonder that former students of old Mumbai schools are helping revive their alma mater.
Thanks to social networking sites, alumni of several vernacular and government-aided schools have rekindled their ties with their alma maters. The students are giving back to their schools by helping modernise the infrastructure and improve student enrolment.
Students of batches from the 1950s of Gokhale Education Society’s VGT School, Girgaon, and RM Bhatt School, Parel, are trying to give their schools a new lease of life. Both schools had started in 1918. While, VGT has been shut down for the last couple of years, RM Bhatt has been struggling to run on a shoestring budget.
Former students of both the schools connected through social networking sites and came together to revive the schools. Students of RM Bhatt held a reunion and launched an initiative to raise funds to modernise the school.
“Marathi-medium schools are shutting down as they are unable to match English-medium schools in terms of infrastructure and number of students. We decided to ensure that our school survives and grows,” said Hemant Kadam, former student of the school.
Another former student, Ajit Sawant, said they conducted inspections of facilities offered in other schools. “This gave us an idea of the competition and areas in which our school lags behind. We asked each batch to adopt a particular area of the school. The response was tremendous.”
Ex-students of VGT school are trying to reopen their alma mater. According to Sawant, school education minister, Vinod Tawde, has asked VGT alumni to submit a proposal to reopen the school.
Financial help from alumni is the need of the day, for vernacular or government-aided schools to survive, said Arif Khan, principal, Anjuman-e-Islam Ahmed Sailor School, Nagpada, that is organising a fund-raising event on February 21, on the occasion of its platinum jubilee celebrations.
“Because of RTE, we cannot charge fees from 50% of our students as they are below poverty line. The state has stopped providing non-salary grants to aided schools since 2004. This has made survival difficult,” Khan said.
“We want smart classrooms with projectors and computers, for which we’ve appealed to former students,” he said.
The alumni of St Xavier’s School, Fort, have refurbished the school auditorium and are now working on restoring the museum. “School management finds it tough to handle all these expenses, so the alumni help us. Our boys are always ready to give back to the school,” said Renee Carvalho, coordinator, alumni association.
Maharashtra Vidyalaya, Goregaon
Former students of this 60-year-old school are working on reviving the school library. Since the last year, they have been running a study centre in the school and also awarding prizes to school toppers in SSC exams. The students have planned a get-together on February 1 at the school hall
Ahmed Sailor School, Nagpada
Started in 1937, the school’s former students will raise funds through a ghazal evening on February 21. The funds will be used to improve the enrollment process, introduce smart classrooms and e-learning facilities among others
RM Bhatt School, Parel
This school will complete 100 years in 2018. The alumni are looking to modernise the classrooms, library and other facilities. Former students also organised an event called Punha Ekda Shalet Javuya (Let’s go back to school), on January 18
St Mary’s, Mazgaon, SSC
The alumni have been sponsoring education of five to ten students from economically weaker sections. They are now gathering money to create a medical fund to help retired teachers with medical expenses
St Xavier’s School, Fort
The alumni are currently working on restoring the school museum, renovating teachers’/masters’ rooms. In the past, they have refurbished the school auditorium, started health insurance for retired teachers and beautified parts of the school.