A fresh coat of paint, better plumbing and drinking water: How 5 teachers gave a Rajasthan school, and its students, a new life

Head teacher Hemlata Sharma collected Rs 40,000 from her sisters, father and brother and added Rs 11,000 from her savings to the school renovation kitty

education Updated: Jul 19, 2017 11:43 IST
School,Renovation,Dilapidated school
Classrooms of Girls’ Upper Primary School in Alwar’s Shivaji Park were spruced up, walls painted in bright colours and new furniture added(HT Photo)

The Government Girls’ Upper Primary School (GUPS) in Rajasthan’s Alwar was plagued with every single challenge that educational institutes across rural India normally face, from dilapidated building and non-existent infrastructure to declining enrolment of students.

But that was then. Seven months after Hemlata Sharma took over as the head teacher of the school, GUPS is brightly painted, has a well-laid out lawn and a badminton court, classrooms have new furniture and student strength has more than doubled.

Pleasing seating areas, space for interaction: The old school now is all bright and cheerful (HT Photo)

The turnaround has been significant, even drawing praise from state education minister. “It is an inspirational story of a school’s transformation. I am very happy to learn about it,” said Vasudev Devnani.

Adesh Chaturvedi, the World Bank’s senior technical specialist for Rajasthan, has also been equally impressed. “I have not seen such a beautiful and child-centric school in the government set-up. It was an eye-opening experience,” he gushed following a recent visit.

Credit for the transformation goes to Sharma and her team of four teachers who pulled in money from their own resources to bring about the change in just four months. Sharma led the way, by urging her own relatives to donate. “I asked my sisters, brother and father for money and collected Rs 40,000 from them. After that I turned to my teachers,” said Sharma, who personally donated Rs 11,000 from her savings to the school development fund.

A garden has been laid out for the children to play in. (HT Photo)

Three other teachers, Sanika Sharma, Sashi Singhal and Kavita Sharma, chipped in with their donations while Manju Rani Sharma, who retired at the end of May, gave Rs 21,000 from her end-of-service payout as a parting gift to the school where she taught.

A tidy corpus fund, to which even some philanthropists of the town some 150km north of Jaipur donated, helped the teachers to dream big. They took upon themselves to repair the school’s roof that leaked, got an underground rainwater recharge tank built and even had a water purifier installed for its students.

“It was a concerted effort in which everyone contributed,” says Sharma, the head teacher. The students’ strength at the school has already ballooned to 202 with fresh applications for admission pending verification. To make up for a shortage of teachers, two students who passed out of the school recently have come back to teach part-time. Parul and Priyanka, the twin daughters of the school management committee president COMMA are in the first year of college.

Clean water, waste disposal - the school has now got new, upgraded facilities. (HT Photo)

The initiatives also include providing the students, mostly from poor backgrounds,with uniforms. Even teachers have uniforms for enforcing discipline, says Sharma. That students’ enrolment in the school is increasing is proof of the initiatives’ success. GUPS has bucked the trend of rampant school dropouts, despite Rajasthan ranking among the top three states of the country on that count. Rajasthan has a dropout rate of 5% among students in the age group of 11 and 14, compared to the national average of 3.5%.

First Published: Jul 18, 2017 18:13 IST