Thanks To Teachers Like This, There Is Hope For Students In Rural India!

The Likely Mentor: Unsung heroes in Education

The post you are about to read is not another cliched post regarding what our education system lacks; it is only a humble attempt to highlight efforts that don’t often catch media’s eye or statistical surveys.

What is the one thing that can fulfil your dream of travelling in aeroplanes one day? What is the one thing that can help you buy a car? What is it that can help you emulate and walk around tip-top like Rakesh Bhai?”, a continuous array of questions were posed by the teacher, as all the children in the class kept pointing to what was lying in front of the desk, some even hoisting it like a flag.

“What will take you further in life? A new toy, Television?”, came another question.
“No!” was the answer thundered out by the children in the class. “Pustak!”(Books), was the response in unison.

Such is the mindset that Ms Sunita Daniel, a government school teacher in Sithan Primary School, Olpad block, Surat has developed in the children she caters to, day in and day out.

Ms Sunita has been teaching in Sithan Primary School for over a decade now with a combined teaching experience of 16 years. Amid all the news regarding government schools that get highlighted in media, which are mostly negative, or plays a blame game, it is easy to forget the heroic attitude of teachers like Ms Sunita displayed every single day.

Let Me Share The Story Of One Of Her Students, Mir

As per the Right to Education Act, government schools cannot detain children, and every child must be enrolled in an ‘age-appropriate class’, irrespective of the learning level of the child, a clause that tends to harm certain students, Mir being one of them.

Mir is one of the many students who has been extremely irregular at school, from not attending classes to not attending school for two years. Things were grave, add to that, RTE regulations don’t allow the school authorities to discard his name from the attendance register, so basically, he was promoted two years in the running, without having attended school.

It is very easy, at this juncture, to point fingers at the school authority, for not being proactive enough to get him back to school. But, let’s not do that this time around. Let’s read further about Ms Sunita’s efforts.

Ms Sunita visited Mir’s house multiple times to convince his parents to send Mir to school. Mir’s mother was in her third marriage and her present husband was not Mir’s father. They were daily wage labourers and had to toil to make ends meet. On being quizzed regarding Mir’s irregularity, the couple would put down the blame to the child. “What can we do if he doesn’t go to school? We must leave for work early in the morning”, is a classic reply that comes from the community’s end.

There is no count to the number of similar interactions the teacher had with his parents, followed by awareness talks with regards to the importance of education, parenting etc. This is not the end of it; when Ms Sunita sent his classmates to fetch him when he wouldn’t turn up, he would approach them with an axe/hatchet (commonly used in farming) to scare them away.

With all this serving as a backdrop-on assessing his reading level in the class, I found him to be one of the most fluent readers. I had no idea about his history at that point.

It takes a teacher’s persistent efforts day-in and day-out to make a miracle like this happen. If you haven’t been able to discern the ‘miracle’; well, it is a child who has been irregular and out of school for two years, whose parents have denied responsibility for his education, someone who was violent and indulged in practices way beyond his age, to be in a classroom, and reading, fluently! Mark my words, that is no less than a miracle. The very fact that Mir was in a classroom is something that nobody would have foreseen.

Teachers in a school in Olpad, Surat assisting children to set up their new library.

Share the post, let’s praise the unsung heroes!

P.S: The name/identity of the child has been changed to safeguard the child, given the sensitive details that have been shared in the article.

#Gandhifellowship #EveryGirlInSchool #EveryChildInSchool #EducateIndia #Libraryforindia #RuralIndia #Makeruralindiaread

With love,
Shuvopriyo Roy,
Gandhi Fellow,
DTP Surat

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