Gopalakrishnan and Vijayalekshmi found many academically weak students in their classes when they joined as teachers in the Government service. They found time for these children after school so that everyone in the class can progress at the same pace. Later this has become Sarang Basic School.
Since then so many students have gone through Sarang. As Sarang evolved into an education system, students also benefited differently. When it was a remedial tuition center, the academically weak got strong. When it become an alternative school, many found their voice (like the irula children giving public speech in their own mother tongue)
Apart from this, Gopalakrishnan and Vijayalekshmi always had a few children growing with their son. Most of these children were from economically weak families. The idea was to give their son ‘siblings’ while trying to help those families in a positive way. Some stayed only for a few months, while some stayed for years. They too count as the students of Sarang
In 1995 after failing in various fund raising initiatives, Sarang team decided to go ahead with the opening of the school with available resources. The temporary shed made for a drama rehearsal became the roof for the school. Since the activities were planned mostly outdoors, the shed was good enough to start. Though the call was for 5-6 year old children, we ended up with 35 drop out from different schools. Some of them were from 10th standard. Only 5 of them barely managed to read or write Malayalam. The rest were in a very bad shape. That batch was a learning experience for us. Everyone was bored with academics, they have behavioural issues, they were in their teens… We had to find innovative ways to get their attention. A positive change started as early as six months. The next year 15 more children were added to the existing batch. Their subjects ranged from languages to music to manual labour.
Due to some trouble within the team also because of the financial liability, the school stopped in 1997. Though this batch of students spent just about two years with us, the changes were dramatic. There were also children who had no change at all. The irony was that, when a child didn’t respond in a positive way, many turned against us. There is no criticism about the education system that took more than 8 to 10 years, funds from public, and time from parents and children. We had to take the blame for many times. Many parents gave is in writing that all they were expecting was to have their child read and write. Though many lead a peaceful and happy life, only a few acknowledge it is because of Sarang.