Two 14 year olds, Rashmitha Mothkuri and Algote Vaishnavi of Zilla Parishad High School in Korutla, Jagityala district casually walked into their school premises one day, only to find the media flogging them, and other students congratulating them with beaming smiles. It was only when the headmaster of the school sincerely thanked them did they reckon the positive change their actions had brought about in the school.
Rashmitha elaborates, “During a civics class, we read in our textbook about suo motu and that we could write to the chief justice of the high court if we were facing any problems. We found it very interesting and asked our teacher whether it could really be done. We then started writing a letter to the chief justice. We told him that we have only one functioning bathroom for 350 students and no toilet at all for boys in the school. They urinate anywhere within the premises of the school. The borewell had also dried up and we were buying water and using it scarcely. The sixth and seventh-class students had to sit outside as we didn’t have enough classrooms, etc. We wrote about all of this, but never expected it to be taken seriously.”
Algote Vaishnavi continues, “One day, to our surprise, our letter was answered, along with a grant of Rs 11 lakh rupees! Within 24 hours, one toilet that had broken down was repaired and started functioning. They have now sanctioned a building of four more toilets, one of them for boys (as the number of boys is lower than girls). A sump and a borewell have also been sanctioned. It is amazing the kind of response it has got. Our parents are proud and everybody in the school is so happy.”
Interestingly, even the headmaster of the school had no clue about the letter till the day that the government officials turned up at his door, asking him about the amount of money required to repair the school facilities. “I was shocked!” says Headmaster Bhupati, adding, “Ever since I took charge of the school in 2015, I have been making trips to the collector, the DEO and several MLAs, requesting them to look into this problem that the school has been facing. But each time, they only said action would be taken but to no avail. During the assemblies, I would tell students that these are the problems, I am trying to get help, but until something’s done, we should use water judiciously, etc. I didn’t even know that they wrote a letter. They did it without anyone’s help or encouragement, which is commendable. What I wasn’t able to do in three years, the girls did in just one day!” And rightly so, the girls became heroes of their school overnight. This action has propelled the girls to aim big and do more for the school. “My favourite subject is social studies,” says Vaishnavi, adding “We get to know about how a country is run, about the constitution, and so many other interesting things. I want to be a social studies teacher when I grow up.” On the other hand, Rashmitha has taken a liking to the sciences. “I love mathematics because I am good at it,” she shares. About the experience of writing the letter, she says, “It was exhilarating. People in my school are happy and are wishing us the best to reach greater heights.”
These two young girls have truly showcased the power of education and that of speaking up for one’s rights....