At a time when the Madhya Pradesh government is taking initiatives like “School Chale Hum Abhiyan”, a government school principal and his students at Shajapur are conducting a street play glorifying the importance of education across the district to bring underprivileged school dropouts back to classrooms.
“Tan Tan Ghanti Baji School ki” (the school bell rings) is the title of the play that has recently inspired eight-year-old ragpicker Ravi Sahu and nine-year-old vegetable vendor Gopal Ahirwar to join school. Scores of other dropouts have responded to the initiative in the affirmative.
Manohar Lal Rai, principal at Government Middle School, Mahalaxmi, received the President’s Award for using communication technology in the field of education in 2015.
“Starting of the current academic session means a new opportunity for me to sensitise more impoverished students to return to studies,” said Rai, who has been holding the play since 2012.
Revealing about his mission, Rai said he got the idea after watching an advertisement on Doordarshan channel encouraging students to join school where various facilities await them.
“After this, I discussed the idea with my school students, who agreed to join me. Initially, there were 15 students in my troupe from classes 6 to 8.
“Before conducting a street play in any part of district, we started taking permission from district collector and additional district magistrate. Our efforts started drawing results as the number of students admitted in government and private schools increased. Even after completing school education, my students are still associated with me in this cause,” Rai said.
The district has a literacy rate of around 70.2%. “My vision was to instil a sense of responsibility among parents, particularly those residing in slum areas to send their children to school as it is the only way to eradicate poverty and inequality,” said the school principal.
Praising Rai, Shajapur district collector Rajeev Sharma said, “He is setting an example before other school teachers and principals. Among 228 of his school students, most of them are from underprivileged sections. His connection with students is even better than that of their parents.”