Students of an elite school in Assam’s Sonitpur district have undertaken an initiative to build a road, which is washed away every year during monsoons, as well as toilets for girls by raising money from their allowance.
Last week, 850 students of Assam Valley School (AVS) at Balipara, about 200 km northeast of Guwahati, contributed Rs 3.5 lakh to pave a 90-metre road to Khelmati weekly market near Balipara and build toilets for girls from underprivileged families.
A good monsoon in Assam means six months of rain, sometimes more, making rural roads slushy and almost unusable.
The school’s Social Service League comprising 60 students of middle-level and senior classes, allocated Rs 2 lakh for the road-paving project involving the laying of cement blocks. They engaged masons but decided to do the bulk of the work themselves.
“Members of the league and other students completed laying a 42-metre stretch of the road by Saturday. The students will resume work from Monday to complete the rest of the road,” Debjani Sarma Bora, a teacher in charge of the league, told Hindustan Times on phone.
She said the students plan to construct all the other roads leading to the market in phases so that it becomes convenient for the local people to visit it even during the rainy season.
The school administration said four higher secondary students averaging 16 years – Sukanya Hazarika, Rohit Agarwal, Ayushi Jain and Shreyansh Agarwal – had pushed for the road-paving project.
“Our school believes in preparing children for life, where skill development is more important than knowledge acquisition and teaching the child is more important than teaching the subject,” Sonya Ghandy Mehta, principal of AVS, said.
Established in 1995 by the Williamson Magor Education Trust, AVS is spread across 95 acres amid tea estates and is the only coeducational boarding school in the northeast.
Social service is a key component of the school’s curriculum. It requires each student to teach at least one illiterate person, visit orphanages and patients in local hospitals. They are also required to teach in schools run by surrounding tea estates for children of plantation workers.