Just three kilometers from the Line of Control (LoC), a government school with more than 200 students in the Mendhar sector of Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch district has witnessed major improvements, thanks to the local army unit that has come forward to help the young help them achieve their dreams.
Mendhar Gunners’ efforts under the auspices of White Knight Corps have been to bring the school up to par with national standards, despite the school being on the LoC and amid the COVID-19 restrictions, the Jammu-based said army pro lieutenant colonel Devender Anand.
Located in the serene hills of the Mendhar, Government High School, Dharana is far away from the hustle and bustle of the city of Poonch, where children can easily absorb knowledge and grow in all aspects of life, he said.
The students at this school generally come from poor families whose main occupation is day-to-day work, which has had major consequences for the students, such as a lack of exposure to the modern outside world, the officer said.
Lieutenant Colonel Anand said Mendhar Gunners, the local army unit that has regular contact with the local population, recognized the problem and took immediate action to help.
“Our school is along the LoC but we get all the facilities that are in all city schools, for example we have a library with all kinds of study material and volleyball courts to play during our game period, that’s something we are all looking forward to,” said the 15 year-old Fathima, a 9th grade student.
The atmosphere of the school can best be described as quiet, spacious with good facilities and amenities in a visually appealing landscape. The sprawling campus is lush green and welcoming. The teaching-learning process unfolds with bird tweeting with a visual treat of butterflies and peacocks! Students can also take short hikes in the orchards surrounding the campus.
The army officer said Mendhar Gunners embellished the school by painting the walls with educational paintings and symbols of national pride.
“Students from the hilly area are sturdy and have a special interest in sports. The army helped the school with volleyball, Kho-Kho and badminton courts along with the necessary sports equipment,” he said.
Lieutenant Colonel Anand said the same was followed by holding tournaments of volleyball and Kho-Kho along with friendly matches of badminton as a first introduction to the sport, though admired but rarely played in this remote part of the country.
He said the military has helped equip the school with modern facilities that only city schools have.
“The military, through Mendhar Gunners, is making every effort to ensure that there is no barrier to the education of these students, while broadening horizons in all areas, such as putting up posters on campus regarding human body parts. to spark interest in the subject of biology,” he said.
Referring to the recent landmark Supreme Court ruling that shattered the glass ceiling in which girls were allowed to take the NDA exam for admission to the National Defense Academy, the army officer said a motivational lecture to join the NDA was for girls from the school. organized with the aim of guiding them to the best military training academy in the country, which elicited a lot of response from the girl students.
After Subedar Neeraj Chopra’s historic Olympic gold medal win in Javelin, the students showed exuberance in taking up sports to represent both the state and the nation, he said.
Lieutenant Colonel Anand said Mendhar Gunners led several sports leagues for Kho-Kho, Badminton and Volleyball.
Students clamoring for soft skills were drawing and painting, dancing and public speaking, he said, adding that the students who stood out for their achievements were rightfully rewarded to motivate them to achieve greater goals.
The events organized were based on the theme of national integration to educate the youth to become patriotic citizens of the great nation, he said.
He said the tree plantation campaign was also organized to make the young students realize the importance of protecting the environment.
“The remote area is surrounded by dense forests. The students therefore had to be proud of the biodiversity of their environment and make the decision to protect it,” he said.
He said the military also organized a medical and COVID-19 vaccination camp with the aim of providing basic medical facilities and free Covid vaccination to locals.
The officer said the military, while maintaining its ethos and tradition, was reaching out to the distant region to provide all possible assistance to the people.