Shirley Pillai Saviour for school kids

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By Sasi Nair K.P.

Good Samaritans emerge from all walks of life when a difficult situation arises. However, none would have a more profound influence on young minds than the selfless initiatives of a teacher who moulds the next generation.

Shirley Pillai, the petite principal of Powai English High School, has done just that. When parents of her wards could not pay their fees after the Covid pandemic-induced lockdowns ravaged family incomes, she swung into action in a quiet and dignified manner. Working community platforms and using social media, she raised Rs.40 lakh from corporate houses and individuals.

“I’m glad the effort is bearing fruit,” says Pillai, her eyes lighting up. She had started the crowdfunding in the second quarter of 2020 after the national lockdown was imposed in March that year.

“Around 200 students’ fees have been paid with the collected funds,” notes the ever-smiling principal, oozing positivity. “We are now looking at sponsors for our students for the academic year of 2021-22.”

Pillai’s praiseworthy initiative done discreetly and away from the arch-lights is a lesson in how to tackle seemingly helpless situations. She displayed compassion of the highest order in stark contrast to many other schools that hiked their fees, threw tantrums, poured scorn and threatened parents in the most heartless manner.

The Powai school caters to 2,200 students, some of whom come from lower middle-class homes and daily wage earners – all with aspirations to build a better future. Only about half the students were able to fork out the cash even after the school offered a 25 per cent discount on the annual fees of Rs.35,000. Some 105 teaching and non-teaching staff took a 30 per cent to 50 per cent pay cut to keep the school afloat.

The outlook was grim and Pillai understood that “girl students would be the first to be forced to drop out” if the situation prolonged. For the first time in her 35-year teaching career, she grappled with report cards piling up on her desk as hard-pressed parents kept away fearing demands for fees if they showed up.

Struggling parents became aware of Pillai’s efforts only when they started receiving phone calls, informing them their wards’ fees have been paid by sponsors. The school is taking care to ensure the children are unaffected by the trauma.

“Children have been told to focus on their studies and leave the fee issue to the adults,” Pillai says, noting that online classes were in full swing.

“I’m putting in my best. I’ll not rest until the remaining report cards are taken away by parents without fear or worry.”

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There are 31 comments

  1. Mrs Anagha S. Kudalkar |

    I fill very proud to dear Shirley Mam .she doing great work ???? Thank you and thanks Sashi Nairji.

  2. Amita Upadhyay |

    Ever since I met you mam I felt you have a heart ?? of gold.Your great effort towards saving academic year of the students is fantabulous.Words are insufficient to praise your good deed.
    Hats off to you Mam????????????????????????
    Hare krishna

  3. Amita Upadhyay |

    Ever since I met you I always felt you have a heart ?? of gold.Your effort towards saving academics of students is fantabulous.Word are insufficient to praise your good deeds.
    Hats off to you Mam????????????????????????????????
    Hare Krishna ????????????????????????????????

  4. Very well written article. Shirley ji is a true messiah in the time of Covid when parents are struggling to pay fees.

  5. Biju Kumar M Kokkattu |

    It’s indeed noble deed.even during these tough times there are still people like Smt Shirley Pillai who put others welfare before there own. Congratulations to Smt Shirley Pillai…

  6. Marvelous , innovative head of a school show the path of yeomen social service and I am proud of her as being a Malayali at a distant place away from Kerala. The peerless matchless capability of Smt. Shirley Pillai raiseth the status of Kerala women and a model for everyone across the terrains .
    Will send this to such women school, college heads in Kerala state so that all can follow her and create more wonders in academies.
    A nation’s true growth engine is educational institutions and the drivers are teachers and today this engines are majorly drove by women like Smt. Shirley Pillai.
    Hearty Congrstullations.

  7. Excellent story, it will inspire many more to come forward and help. We need many more like Shirley Pillai in our society.

  8. Yeomen social service by a Malayali school head at a distant place away from Kerala raiseth the status of Malayali women
    Hearty congratulations

  9. Well written article about the admirable initiative taken by Mam Shirley Pillai during this difficult time. It contains a perfect and practical advice to the society.
    Congratulations to Mam Pillai

  10. Shirley Pillai is doing a great job for kids as well as for the society. Very nice article by Sasi Nair. Thank you

  11. Shirley Pillai madam…
    You have raised the teaching profession in to new heights, highly commendable work.
    All the best to you.

  12. Glad to have Shirley Pillai Ma’am as a teacher in our society.
    Wishing you luck to keep up with this nice work ????

  13. No words to appreciate. Great deed. Noone in kerala could do such a tremendous effort.
    Dear children.
    you are not in a school. But in heaven with full of angels around. Madam. Bow before you.

  14. Shierly Pillai Madam ????????????
    You have raised the teaching profession in to new heights. Highly commendable work. God bless you.

  15. Glad to have Shirley Pillai Ma’am as a teacher in our society. Wishing you luck to keep up with this nice work.

  16. Gangadharan Nair |

    Good to read about Ms Shirley Pillai and the great initiatives she took to help her students in these difficult times. Besides helping these students, her unique way of extending help to the needy is inspiration to others.

  17. Sir , the storyline you have followed depicts an extraordinay one. We have heard of teachers helping students to meet a day’s food or a terms fees,but this is the first time a principal of a school is troubling herself to find fees for a whole lot of them fearing that they would be dropouts. Commendable work by an individual and a professional. Credit to you also to bring such adulatory stories

  18. To The Editor, emoji’s are not supporting in this application. In above comment she put 4 time emoji of thumsup but it appears like question mark and the meaning of the sentence had changed. Pls rectify the same


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