A government school teacher who went an extra mile to provide a mobile library to students who could not afford it. From a well-maintained reading corner to monthly circulation of books, Priti Gandhi makes sure that every child who loves to read gets a book in his or her hand. Read her inspiring story and how she did it.
Teaching is probably one of the oldest professions in India. From the old Gurukuls to the modern times’ international schools, one thing that remains common between then and now is the teacher.
No matter how much technology advances, we will still need teachers to guide us. They share a unique bond with their students which go much beyond just the academic walls.
There are some teachers who fulfill their duty perfectly – teach students, give them grades and go home. Then there are those who give their heart and soul to this profession. Teaching is not just a source of income to them but an opportunity to bring a change. And, when such people come forward for a larger good, we see the impact.
Priti Gandhi, principal of Kalol Primari School, Gandhinagar, Gujarat is among those few who go an extra mile to impart knowledge and wisdom to the young minds.
She started an initiative to inculcate a reading habit among the students of a government school by starting a home library and a ‘reading corner’ project for those who can’t afford to buy books.
“I always wanted to do something which could benefit kids at large and, with great support from my husband Yogesh Acharya, I managed to take forward the initiative,” she says.
Making best friends out of books
“Reading is a great habit, it not only gives you good knowledge but also gives you a sense of language, improves your vocabulary and enhances your imagination. Children should enjoy reading,” she says.
Gandhi did a survey of the Kalol taluk and found that there was not a single library for kids. The students she used to work with belonged to a very economically weak community that could not afford to buy new books.
She decided to give a book kit to the students. She purchased an aluminum bag and put 20 books in that. The books covered various topics and subjects, and then she gave that bag to a student for a month. Once the student is done reading the books from the bag, he or she would return it at the end of the month.
“We used the aluminum bag as the living condition in the houses of these kids is not very good. So, rats and other creatures might spoil the books,” Gandhi says.
Slowly the idea picked up and she started it as a regular activity. She now has around 54 such kits which she distributes to the students on a monthly basis. Various donors have come forward to help Gandhi with this initiative and funded the project.
She also converted a waste land into a reading corner.
“I saw a corner of the land being misused by some people so I thought to use it for a better purpose. I got it cleaned and put some chairs and reading tables. Now a lot of children come there everyday after school to read and spend time,” she says.
She decorated the space by colouring the walls and putting up posters and involved the students in the decoration. She also organized books according to levels and keep them in the reading corner for students to pick up freely. In the end, the students’ progress was tracked through tests.
Gandhi has seen a lot of changes in the students since the time they started reading. “The kids have started taking an interest in the classes as they already know most of the things through the books they read. Their vocabulary has also improved,” she says.
Currently Gandhi has supported 150 students through her books. She wants to greatly increase the number in the future.
“Currently we don’t have enough resources to distribute bags and kits to every student. I would like to expand this initiative and make the materials available to all the students,” she says.
Gandhi was also included in the list of 100 teachers as part of “Teachers as Transformers: Innovations In Gujarat’s State Schools”