Meerakrishna has effortlessly cleared the first big hurdle in her pursuit to become a medical professional.
The 15-year-old tribal girl from Attappady in Palakkad district secured highest grades in the Kerala State Class 10 examination (Secondary School Leaving Certificate, SSLC) of which the results were out on Wednesday.
She got A-Plus grades in all the 10 subjects. A-Plus grades are awarded to those who score above 90% marks.
Meerakrishna thus became the first student from Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG) to secure top grades in Class 10 examination.
She belongs to Kurumba tribe. Cholanaikkan, Kattunaikan, Kadar and Koraga are the other Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups in Kerala.
“This achievement gives me courage to pursue my dream of becoming a medical professional. My next target is to perform well in Class 12 exams,” Meerakrishna, who studied at the Model Residential School in Attappady, said.
A year ago, Meerakrishna lived in Thazhe Thudukki tribal hamlet, which lies close to the forest, in Pudur gram panchayat. The place has no electricity, leave alone internet connectivity or television connection. “We left our hamlet only to ensure better education facilities to our only daughter,” said her father Mathan. Her mother Sreeja is an ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) worker.
Now the family lives in Chindakki in Agali gram panchayat. “After relocation, she started watching Victers Channel on television. However, internet connectivity is still a dream for us,” said Mathan, who works as a security guard with the Attappady Co-operative Farming Society in Agali.
Agali, Attappady and Pudur gram panchayats are part of the Attappady Tribal Development Block.
Adivasis in Attappady mainly belong to three tribes – the Irulas, Kurumbas and Mudugas – each with distinctive lifestyle, culture and food habits. The Kurubas are found closer to the forests while the others occupy the plains.
Learning during lockdown
Meerakrishna learnt most of her lessons sitting at home, watching classes aired on the government-owned Victers television.
“It was a bit difficult, but we did not have any other option,” said Meerakrishna.
But what helped Meerakrishna and her friends most was the resumption of classes at the Model Residential School in Attappady in January this year. “That was a huge morale booster,” she said.
Classes at the Model Residential School were resumed in January with special permission from the education department. “We adhered to COVID-19 protocols while conducting the classes for Class 10, 11 and 12 students. Students, teachers and staff worked together with the only aim of securing good results,” said the school’s senior superintendent K Madhushoodanan.
And their efforts paid huge dividends too. All the 35 students cleared Class 10 examination with six of them securing A-Plus grades in all subjects. “Five Scheduled Tribe students and one Scheduled Caste student got A-Plus in all subjects,” Madhusoodanan said.
Mathematics teacher K Suresh Kumar, who taught Meerakrishna from Class 5, said she is a very enthusiastic student.
“We were sure that she would secure top grades in the exam. She has not let us down. I am feeling so happy for her. She is a role model for the generations to come,” he said.