KR Ushakumari is the only teacher at the Agasthya Ega Adhyapaka Vidyalaya, Kunnathumala. Part of 'single teacher school' programme started by Kerala in 1999 for tribal areas, she teaches Maths, English, the regional language and Environmental studies to children from 1st to 4th standard.

That may sound admirable but it is not what makes her extraordinary. That would be the journey to teach these 14 students of hers.

For 17 years, teacher Ushakumari has been rowing a boat and trekking through forests to teach tribal children as the lone teacher of the school


Every day, KR Ushakumari starts by taking a scooter from her house to the nearby shore. From there, she rows a boat to the other end of the shore before the next phase of her journey begins - a four kilometer trek.

For 17 years, teacher Ushakumari has been rowing a boat and trekking through forests to teach tribal children as the lone teacher of the school


The first two are relatively okay but the last two kilometers is a steep uphill trek to reach the school. It is a journey she has to repeat every day after school closes, reaching well after the sun has gone down. Mind you, while she has never come across them, these are woods laden with elephants and leopards.

It is a journey she has been taking for 17 years now.

Add to this, she is also in charge of ensuring the children get their lunch time meals. At times, she uses her own money to buy milk and eggs for the children's meals when funds are low. She also monitors their extracurricular activities in between all this, including culturals and sports.

“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.” 
- Ushakumari 

For 17 years, teacher Ushakumari has been rowing a boat and trekking through forests to teach tribal children as the lone teacher of the school
Images source: News Minute


She was just in 10th standard when she won her first award for social service - Saksharatha Puraskaram from KANFED (Kerala Association for Nonformal Education and Development). for educating the elderly. That would inspire her to first work as a field volunteer finding children who were not getting an education and bringing them to school and eventually applying for the single-teacher school projects when Kerala began the scheme.

With a meager, often-delayed salary and a dangerous daily trek, not many are willing to consider joining this school but that has not stopped this admirable woman. Even today, as you read this, Ushakumari continues her daily journey, rowing a boat and trekking uphill through leopard laden lands for the sake of the young minds she wants to uplift.    




For 17 years, teacher Ushakumari has been rowing a boat and trekking through forests to teach tribal children as the lone teacher of the school


Author's note:
This is part of my  #BlogchatterA2Z and #AtoZChallenge where I will be focusing on Real Life Heroes of Kindness and Compassion. 

Of course, I have been tracking these lovely human beings for years now and have found children as young as six years old and old women in their eighties from across the world who will restore your faith in humanity.

Want more stories of compassion to brighten up your day? Hundreds of 'Heroes of Kindness' can be found here:

Heroes of Kindness - 2017 edition
Heroes of Kindness - 2018 edition
Heroes of Kindness - 2019 edition
Heroes of Kindness - Indian edition

7 Comments

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. To start something like this might be a bit easy but to keep on doing it for several years is really commendable!👏

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  3. This is what dedication towards education looks like. Salute to her for that unrelenting spirit.

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  4. What an inspiring teacher! It is teachers like these who make learning so inspiring.

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  5. Thank you so much for sharing this information. This woman in incredible!

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