Education is perhaps the only tool that has the power to change society, says 28-year-old Supriya Kujur, a tribal woman from Jharkhand’s Gumla district.
Having struggled to educate herself, Kujur, who now runs a school in her village, is bringing about the change in the neighbourhood.
Kujur’s school has more children than the 50 students enrolled in the government school in her village.
Currently 250 students attend her school — Sukru Bhagat Children Academy — in Kohipaat Barwa Toli village under Ghaghra block of the district.
“The government school teachers hardly take classes and are often busy with their personal work. Students now avoid going to the government school and more students have joined my school,” says Kujur.
Perturbed by the existing norms in her village where liquor addiction and domestic violence were the order of the day, Kujur from a young age had a strong urge to change things for the better.
“Addiction cannot be completely eliminated from the village, it can only be controlled,” she says.
“Education is the most powerful medium to do it and help in the development of society.”
Gumla is rich in mineral and natural resources such as aluminium and bauxite. However, this Maoist-affected district is steeped in poverty with a majority of the residents relying on farming or unskilled jobs in the local mines for their livelihood.
Kujur started out by teaching just one child that too free of cost and under a banyan tree. Slowly more children joined her classes and she started a full- fledged school in 2012 for students till Class 5.
As the number of students increased, she sought for permission from elders to use the villages’ community centre, where she currently teaches the children.
Today, five other teachers work with her, whom she pays a salary of Rs 1,500 per month.
“They are not bothered about the money but doing a service,” says Kujur, who cultivates the family’s 3-acre land to run the school and meet her household expenses.