A teacher and a reformer: Headmaster gave makeover to govt-run school in rural Chhattisgarh

Headmaster Kripashanker Srivastava gave a makeover to school from his own funds, to such an extent that it’s now regarded as good as a private institution, reports Ejaz Kaiser 
School in Chikladih, Sarguja, located in north Chhattisgarh
School in Chikladih, Sarguja, located in north Chhattisgarh

CHHATTISGARH:  When he took over the reins of the school in Chikladih, Sarguja, located in north Chhattisgarh, in 2011, Kripashanker Srivastava (61) was aware of the challenges facing him: poor infrastructure, low enrolment rate and callous teachers.

Srivastava knew how difficult it would be to get the children from the tribal rural belt enrolled in the school and ensure their regular attendance. Despite his limitations, he surged ahead with strong willpower and made a plan intending to create a positive atmosphere in the school, in existence since 1947, turning it into a happy place for students.

Instead of asking for any support from the government, he used his funds. For over 10 years, he has been contributing one day’s income from his monthly salary to bring a change in the school environment. The end result is that parents now line up to get their children admitted to the school.  Shrivastava, who is retiring this year, completely renovated the school, creating a magnificent garden and platform with added educative values, and print-rich surroundings to teach the students.

“If the ambience of a school is appealing, a good teacher who understands the kids can give encouraging results. The school environment is one of the key factors affecting the students’ performance”, said Srivastava. He recalls that when he joined the school, the premises were filthy, shabby, neglected and encroached upon where the villagers frequently tied up cattle and goats.

The admission and attendance rates were also low. His first focus was sensitising and encouraging the local community to send their children to school. He organised events at the school to grab attention, distributed free textbooks, and pens/pencils to students, and took them to picnics.

“The condition of the Chikladih village school was no different as usually seen in the distantly located rural tribal region. There was no boundary, pathetic walls, poor sanitation and deficient lighting. I felt that giving a new look to school with innovations might work and it did,” he said, sharing that the strength of students rose to 75 from 30. Where barely 25 students would attend classes earlier, the number rose to 65.

“The headmaster is an inspiration for others. It’s commendable that the money he sets aside every month from his salary is invested for executing innovative constructive work in the school,” said Sanjay Guhe, district education officer, Sarguja. 

For every innovative idea he executed on the makeover of the school, he has spent money from his pocket. He developed a garden and constructed a platform to conduct game-based learning activities. Social activist Rajesh Sisodia applauded the teacher for his accomplishments.

“He has gone beyond the role of an educator not just to revive the look of the premises but also inspired parents and students to such an extent that admissions have increased by over three-fold,” said Ramesh Narang, a parent.

He created a garden where he planted fruits, flowers, ornamental, and medicinal plants among others; got western-style toilets constructed, with separate hand wash areas; dry and wet containers for waste materials; installed an attractive school gate; organised sports activities; recovered a five-acre encroached-upon land for the school and converted it into a beautiful garden.

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