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Kerala staff use own savings to buy PCs

INDIA

When a handful of teachers at the government-run Vellanad vocational higher secondary school in Kerala put together their life savings to set up a computer laboratory for students, they could not have predicted the consequences of their act.

Two years later their school is on the literacy map and it has gained an award of 200,000 rupees (pound;2,350) for the best computer laboratory in the state.

Vellanad stands out in India, where computers are rare in schools and teachers point their fingers at the lack of funds from the state or aid bodies.

According to the principal, Ms KS Vimlakumari, the school had three options: "Either we would have had to approach the parents for money, or ask welfare groups or wait for government grants. We bypassed all three because the parents of our students are poor farmers who would never be able to pay up. If we took aid from welfare organisations they would own the computers and our children would suffer. The government grants take forever due to bureaucracy. So we decided to fund it on our own."

The 80 teachers took out loans and withdrew Provident Fund money to buy the machines. Today, with the award money they hope to repay their loans. Ms Vimlakumari said: "We are happy our students are not suffering because they are poor. It is a small beginning, but for us a great one."

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