CHANDIGARH: There is nothing extraordinary about the Government Primary School in Jhangrian village of Punjab, but that its building appears to be in a better condition than most other government schools in the state. Also that its students can speak impeccable English, something not many government schools can boast of.
Harshdeep Singh, a Class 3 student, can tell the capitals of 51 countries. He knows not just the names of the seven continents, but also their areas.
Harshdeep is not the only general knowledge wizard in the school. Jyoti of Class 4 remembers the names of all 117 Assembly constituencies of Punjab. She can also rattle off in minutes the names of all 29 states, their capitals and the names of all prominent medical colleges in the country. Damanjit Singh of Class 2 remembers the names of all prominent Punjabi poets.
All 33 children studying up to Class 5 in this school in Nurpur Bedi block of Rupnagar district are bundles of talent and knowledge — Their two teachers are selflessly helping to shape their future.
The scenario was not always the same. Over a year ago, there were only 15 students and their numbers were steadily declining. The school building was in a shambles, ready to give in any day. Parents were worried about the safety of their children. The quality of teaching was not up to the mark.
The school was on the verge of closure when Amarjeet Singh joined as a teacher there over a year ago. “There were hardly any students in this school. I then visited all the households in the village and asked the people why they were not sending their wards to school. Parents told me that teachers in government schools do not teach, so students fail. So they preferred to send their children to a nearby private school. We then decided to change this perception,” he said.
Singh set out to improve the infrastructure first. “The building was in a bad shape and needed urgent repairs. I went to the villagers with request for funds. With their help, we collected Rs 1.5 lakh and renovated the building. Now, there are three classrooms. The toilets were also reconstructed. Earlier, students used to sit on the floor, but we bought furniture and a computer,’’ he said.
The winds of change were visible. Slowly, the number of students started rising. There is a waiting list for admission now.
After securing the basic facilities, Singh turned his focus on teaching. He, along with his colleague Seema Rani, teach from the course books as well as impart knowledge of current affairs and general knowledge.
With the quality of teaching, the students have shown remarkable progress. “We have given our mobile numbers to students and told them that for one hour in the evening, they can call us and ask if they have difficulty in doing their homework,” Singh said.
A rural school with a marked difference
The Government Primary School in Behela village near Barnala was about to close as the PWD department had declared the building unsafe. The students had stopped coming. The education department had also expressed its inability to help the school. However, head teacher Harpreet Singh did not give up.
With help from villagers and NRIs, and contribution from some teachers, four rooms were constructed. Now, the school has smart classrooms. Besides, an activity room, a computer room and two playgrounds have also been developed. The school now has 195 students. People register one year in advance to get their children admitted in the school, says Singh.