People often worry about the falling standards of education at schools, but parents of children studying in this residential school for tribals can rest easy.
A microbiologist who spent his heydays at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre has taken it upon himself to educate the next generation of scientists. Prof Swapan Bhattacharya, who retired from the centre a decade ago and helped set up the microbiology laboratory at the Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology in Indore, is fulfilling his life-long dream of educating tribal children, in the remote village of Alirajpur.
Spending his post-retirement days at his house in Paramanunagar in Indore, Prof Bhattacharya was always on the lookout for ways to impart knowledge to underprivileged children.
His search came to an end the day he came across the Dhas Gramin Vikas Kendra in Alirajpur district. The Rani Kajal Jeevanshala School, a residential school for tribal children run by the Kalpantar Shikshan Trust, piqued his interest.
“I immediately got in touch with Kemat Gawle, the director of the organization, and visited the school in Kakrana village on the banks of the River Narmada, about 250 km from Indore. I had no second thoughts as I decided to take up residence in this school and began to give my inputs to improve its functioning,” said Prof Bhattacharya.
A dreamer, as scientists often are, his aim is to get the elderly and retired people to work for rural kids and contribute positively to society.
“Every elderly scientist should adopt a village and teach kids,” he said. Within a short period of just five months at the school, Prof Bhattacharya’s effects are already visible on not just the children and the campus but the entire village community.
“He created a library and reading room, a laboratory, a botanical garden, a butterfly park and has got funders from far and wide to fund the construction of toilets which were less in number,” director Gawle said. “The children now do various kinds of research to understand the science texts that are taught in their school and they have also begun documenting the flora and fauna in a bio-diverse forest that the villagers of Kakrana have protected through community participation."
Gawle further said, ”Motivated by the other teachers at the school, Prof Bhattacharya works tirelessly for the tribal kids and the overall development of his adopted home, while also finding solutions to the problems faced by the Bhil community. I was impressed by other teachers who are teaching there for the last 10 years. They have given me motivation to work with them. I am planning many things with my friends who are retired scientists across the country.”