For the past 16 years, Ushakumari has been travelling for two-hours every day through a steep stretch of tropical forest uphill in southern Kerala to provide education to tribal kids.
Kerala-based Ushakumari is the only teacher in Kunnathumala Agasthya Eka Adyapaka School, located in southern Kerala. What makes her different from the rest is the journey she has been taking to bring education to the children in the forest area.
Ushakumari’s day starts at 7.30 in the morning. A resident of Amboori village, she travels to Kumbikal Kadavu in Thiruvananthapuram and from there she rows a boat across the shore. She later treks for nearly two-hours every day through a steep stretch of tropical forest uphill, which has wild elephants and leopards, and ends at Kanni tribal settlement in Kunnathumala.
Despite the long journey she takes, Ushakumari has never been late to school.
For the past 16 years, this has been her journey to reach the school, which functions between 10 am to 4 pm in the Agasthyarkoodam Biosphere of Kerala, reports The Hindu.
Being the only teacher in the school, Ushakumari teaches all the subjects like Mathematics, languages, and Environmental Studies to 14 students from Class one to four. Before the school building came up, Ushakumari would teach her students on rock beds or under the trees.
Ushakumari also takes care of other extracurricular activities for the children’s overall development such as cultural activities and sports. She says:
It is really important to make them competent, for, after this, they go to regular public schools in the city and study with children who have been there, reports The News Minute.
In addition to her role as a teacher, she also ensures the children get good nutrition and gives them eggs and milk. In her absence, a caretaker has been appointed to take care of the entire operation and feed the kids as per the schedule.
Sometimes when she doesn’t get salary on time, she spends her own money to get meals for her students.
Honouring her contribution in the field of education, Ushakumari has also been awarded Saksharatha Puraskaram from KANFED (Kerala Association for Nonformal Education and Development).