Educational Experiments for inclusion and excellence
When Kesar Singh Rathr reached his first posting at Akha dungri about twenty years ago, there was no school building. He used to teach in the houses of the local community members. Many kids would come without bath or even proper clothes on. He would cut their hairs, nails and take bath with them in the river nearby. Slowly and slowly, kids were encouraged to take school attendance more seriously. About fifteen years ago, two rooms were built there. The number of students later increased and another teachers was also posted. About ten years ago, he moved to dandhoda primary school, Chhota Udaipur, Vadodara District. So far, 21 students from his school have been selected for navodaya vidalaya.
To prevent drop out completely, he made a team of three students ( tukdi nayak) from each hamlet, and assigned them the responsibility to bring ten or more students from that settlement. If some one is missing, they have to ascertain the reason, if sick, then find out her/his well being. Teacher knew thus whereabouts of each student. For the last six years, he has brought drop out rate to zero. There are always students who are weak in studies but they me may be strong in cultural activities or sports, he makes sure that such students also get a chance to show their talent. When he faced the problem of some girls not coming to school or father of children not appreciating the importance of education enough, he organized mother and daughter meet for the school. This resolved the problems and mothers proved more concerned about the education and well being of children then father. To avoid misuse or diversion of of tribal scholarship money by parents, he would call uniform providers to school and ask the children to buy their uniform on the spot.
When Kesar singh planted trees in school, there was a problem of saplings getting stolen, he decided to plant some in school but gave majority of seedlings every year to children to plant at their house. Many parents used to go for a nature’s call in the school premises. He shared this problem in the parents-teachers meet and asked them if their children had to clean the mess, would they still do that? and slowly and slowly, this problem has also been stopped. He has appointed sixteen ministers from among the children for taking care for various tasks including putting garlands on the photos of heroes hanging on the wall, keeping water point clean, sanitation etc., and the school remains tidy always now. There are seven teachers in this school and the youngest of them, arun bhai downloads interesting clips, movies about wild life, comics from net on his personal mobile and then shows these on lcd screen and 12 computers during recess. It is not that they have succeeded in every mission. When it comes to drinking habit, despite repeated admonishment in parents meet, it still continues but at least younger people are keeping away. When parents of some children migrate, they are given migration cards so that they can get the children enrolled in the village where they go for work. Six such kids got the benefit of this scheme in this school, only about 3500 children were issues such cards in 2008-9 in the entire state. One needs to investigate whether this is all the extent of seasonal migration in the state.
Manu ben Naharsi Parmar, has set up an ayurvedic garden in her government primary school, Netran and planted about 120 trees of more than thirty species in the school compound during the last three years. Each tree has been marked with the name of his student along with his class. Now the children complain if any one takes even a leaf of their tree without authorization or purpose. She has also created a kitchen garden where children grow vegetables to be used in mid day meal. A physically challenged child, brijesh from this school got an award under Vanchey Gujarat program at state level.
Anjana Ben, Mohan bhai, Moja primary school, Valia, inspired by Kamlesh bhai (about whom i wrote earlier) and six other teachers have also transformed the ambience of the entire school through plantation of trees and 80 species of ayurvedic and other plants. Children are given assignment to observe the flowering, leaf shape and such other properties of these plant and thus learn to observe nature. Teachers contribute 100 rupees from their salary every month and use it for common expenses of school farm, garden and other activities. The teachers also make decoction of medicinal plants and give to children every year when the season changes as a preventive health measure.
Small steps, taken by many teachers, at several places can bring about a definite change in the quality of education in every state. But which chief Minister has found a day a month to spend with outstanding teachers at every level, none so far. But it will change some day, i am sure. When teachers become the fulcrum of change, no body can stop that society from progressing.
Anil K Gupta