Among the many bounties that Bihar lost after its bifurcation to form Jharkhand was the Netarhat Awasiya Vidyalaya, an institution that has produced many luminaries — from academicians to top bureaucrats.
The Simultala Awasiya Vidyalaya (SAV) was established on August 9, 2010, to fill that void.
The objective was to provide a platform to talented students from underprivileged sections of society to nurture creative excellence and human values. The Netarhat Old Boys’ Association played a pivotal role in setting the school’s foundation.
Located in picturesque Simultala on the Bihar-Jharkhand border, the school — considered a dream project of chief minister Nitish Kumar — is reminiscent of Netarhat, but different.
For one, it is co-educational.
It was first conceived as a CBSE English-medium school to keep pace with modern times. However, it was converted into a Bihar board school, though the English medium was retained.
The founding principal of the school, Prof Shankar Kumar of Patna Science College, who conducted the two-tier statewide test of over 22,000 students to shortlist 60 boys and 60 girls in 2011-12, recalls the talent the students showcased at the Class 6 level.
“Away from the glamour of public schools, these students showed huge potential lying hitherto unnoticed and today they have proved it,” he said.
Though the school has had its fair share of problems — delayed academic sessions and dropouts in higher secondary — the talent of the students has kept reminding the authorities about the need to give it the right attention.
In 2013-14, the school had to skip a session as the process for admission could not be started on time. Last year, after the chief minister expressed displeasure over the prospect of his dream school skipping another academic session on a trot, authorities swung into action and belatedly held an abridged entrance test to catch-up.
This year the admission process for Class 6 is delayed as well — ideally the academic session should be underway from April 1. The school also does not have its own campus, and runs from a few rented bungalows.
“Yet, what remains undiminished is the students’ passion to excel,” said a former member of the school’s advisory board. “They know the worth of the opportunity that has come their way and want to make the most of it under the guidance of their teachers. Boarding schools have wide-ranging demand. It is not only about six hours of schooling; it is a home away from home for the little ones.”