A memory kept locked away

Most of us would want to revisit our alma mater to relive our school days when life was a lot less complicated. Under rare circumstances, for some people, there may not be a school to revisit, as it would have disappeared without a trace.

The alumni of Keerathottam Primary School on Venkatachalam Naiken Street, Pudupet, find themselves in an even more unfortunate situation.

They can watch the building of the school, just standing outside its locked gates. Approximately 15 years ago, the school was shut down due to a dip in enrolment.

This Corporation school, which offered education in Tamil medium, is said to have had a good base in the 1990s. Later, with the advent of many English medium schools in that locality, the number of students started dwindling and a decision was taken to shut it down.

Sixty-four-year-old Jaya Lakshmi, an alumna of the school, now residing in Ayanavaram, recalls that Keerathottam primary school was once a very good educational institution with a maximum strength of 500 students and 15 teachers; it was a popular school then.

Jaya Lakshmi says that the school on a residential street has many trees around it, the school had a quiet to it. This quiet was shattered the number of automobile service shops in the locality increased.

Jaya Lakshmi says that when a group of old students approached the local Assistant Education Officer of Greater Chennai Corporation, they could not get hold of much information about the school in the intervening years.

M. Sundaram, an alumnus of the school, recalls how one of the teachers, Tara Bai, made an effort to maintain the standard of the school.

Sundaram says there was a ‘Tamil Elakiya Mandram’ at the school to promote the Tamil language.

“The Keerathottam primary school, which has remained locked for so long can again be used for educational purpose,” says Thyagarajan, one of the residents of the area.

He says it can be converted into a skill development centre or an industrial training centre for the benefit of the unprivileged.

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