In this less educated village of Mansa district, a member of the panchayat has ignited the spark of knowledge.
A man with top qualifications who cleared the University Grants Commission National Eligibility Test (UGC-NET) for lecturer's job recently, Bikkar Singh (39) has inspired many villagers to let their children continue their studies and earn professional degrees.
The majority of the 1,200 population of Sadhuwala, a village in Sardulgarh subdivision, is uneducated. "Not even 5% villages have college or higher degrees," said Bikkar Singh. Mansa's literacy rate of 53% is lowest of all districts.
Bikkar Singh goes door-to-door to seek out dropout students and motivate their parents to let them have their education. It's a tough job. "Bikkar is playing a huge role in changing the education profile of this village," said villager Teja Singh (68). "He gives money to the poor labourers to put their children in school and then supports their education."
Teja Singh had two sons, and both had dropped out of school after primary education, but Bikkar motivated him with logic to send them back to school. "My son Jaspal Singh went to Australia after receiving the MCom degree from Delhi," said Teja Singh. "He had quit school after Class 10 until Bikkar guided him and got him admitted to NM College in Mansa and then higher institutions."
Sadhuwala village has no bus service since Independence. The village school is up to Class 5, and later, students have to walk or bicycle 2 kilometres to Phoosmandi village for education up to Class 8, and 5-km to Sardulgarh for studies up to Class 12.
Bikkar Singh has earned the degrees of Master of Arts (Punjabi), Master of Philosophy (Punjabi), Master of Education, MA (English), and Bachelor of Education. His wife, Veerpal Kaur, holds a doctorate degree.
"I'm on a mission to inspire my fellow villagers to seek education. I want to open a library and build a sports ground at Sadhuwala in a larger effort to make the village drug-free," said Bikkar Singh. "Even so many years after Independence, many villages still have no bus service and children have to walk miles to school. In spite of many promises, the village schools have not been upgraded."