School for SC, BC in Ranigunj faces existential crisis; student strength declines, pressure to shift it out

Hyderabad:  The 108-year-old famed Sir William Barton High School renamed Government Audaiah Memorial High School, situated in commercial hub Ranigunj, Secunderabad, is shrinking by the day.
Established in 1916, the high school, presently having 80 odd students, which was standing on a nearly 4-acre has lost considerable land to government corporation in the past.

The remaining two open spaces on either side of the school are now being considered for a new school building, leaving little space for playground for the students and much needed lung space for the local residents.

The co-education English medium school, exclusive for SCs/ BCs once boasted of 658 SC students.
Officially, the school authorities now claim the total strength of 6th to 10th class at 86 students–62 boys and 24 girls.

There is also a Government Compulsory Primary School functioning in the premises under the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan scheme.

Since it is a heritage school and the building cannot be demolished for reconstruction, the government has decided to construct a new school building in the remaining playground.

The government decision is strongly opposed by the residents since its construction will deprive the students of a playground and recreation facility and locals of breathing space in the commercial area. Local youth indulge in sports and games after school hours and during holidays. The strength of the school has depleted over the years.

Tourism buses occupy playground

The school, which had a huge playground, lost three fourth of the play ground to A P Tourism Development Corporation now Telangana State Tourism Development Corporation (TSTDC) nearly two decades back. The playground is now used as workshop/parking of hi-tech tourism department buses.
Though the corporation took the playground for a short duration of two months when local MLA Talasani Srinivas Yadav was Minister, it was never returned to the school. Though there were protests by locals, the tourism corporation did not vacate the school playground.

MLA visits school

Following representation made by locals to the MLA, Srinivas Yadav visited the school and urged the school principal to construct the school in open space on the RP Road side instead of the present venue.
“The government has sanctioned sufficient funds for construction of a new school building. The present heritage building, though renovated from time to time, is in a dilapidated condition. We had approached the government and sought sanction for a new school building. I want to see new building during my tenure. The building will be useful to students,” Narayan Reddy, Principal of the school said.

When the R and B staff took up marking for construction of new school building, the locals opposed the same. The principal requested the youth not to hamper construction and warned of police complaint. But the youth defied the fiat.

Shift proposed building

Miriyala Vinod Kumar and other locals who took up cudgels against the construction of school building, requested the local MLA Srinivas Yadav to shift the proposed school building in another open space adjoining the RP Road in the school compound. The MLA agreed to the suggestion and asked the school principal to shift the site. The matter is pending.

“Our MLA has asked the principal to shift the proposed site. The students and the local youth are losing open spaces in the school. We request government to reconsider the proposal and shift the construction to another open site,” Vinod said.

The  MLA said he agreed to the youth plea and requested the school authorities to shift the venue.
In fact, landsharks had an eye on the prime school playground and attempted to grab it, but locals foiled the attempt.

School has cherished history

The school meant for SCs and BCs has a long-cherished history. Kartikela Veeraswamy was very active in the Freedom movement. He had studied in the school; He was nominated on the board of trustees of the Sir William Barton High School.

Sir William Pell Barton, (May 29, 1871 – November 28, 1956) had a distinguished career in the Indian Political Service during the British rule. He was British Resident in Baroda (1919), Mysore (1920–25) and Hyderabad (1925–30). He was an authority on the North West Frontier and Princely States during British rule in India.

Veeraswamy, in 1961, became the Honorary Secretary of the school. He got it renamed after M L Audaiah, the first SC engineer in Hyderabad under the chairmanship of D Sanjeevaiah, the first scheduled caste Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh.