Anyone can learn from a book. But a #TerrificTeacher can make the difference between passing an exam and learning a life lesson. The Better India salutes those for whom teaching is not a job but a higher calling.
There are teachers, and then there is R Sathy, headmistress of the Panchayat Union Primary School, near Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu.
The 46-year-old, with a teaching experience accounting to half of her life, R Sathy is set to receive the National Award for teachers on September 5 from the Vice President of India– Venkaiah Naidu.
R Sathy started her teaching career in 1995 in the Sulthanpettai Union School. She taught at various other schools before being posted at Malumichampatti Panchayat Union Primary School as headmistress in the academic year 2012-13. She has remained there since.
But becoming a teacher wasn’t Sathy’s childhood dream. She wanted to pursue medicine, but heeding the advice of her father, she joined a teacher training course. It was here that she became passionate about teaching and the impact she could create in society.
However, it is not her impressive career that landed her the National Award, but the various initiatives that she implemented, which impressed the panel at the Ministry of Human Resources Development in New Delhi.
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When Sathy joined the school, there were only 140 students. She first focused on renovating the infrastructure of the school. With the sponsorship from L&T Constructions, the school had a major makeover.
She extensively campaigned against children dropping out of schools, going door-to-door in the town to illustrate the benefits of primary education.
Within two years, by 2015, the number of students in the school increased to 270. And that’s not all; the school building now has working toilets, an RO water purifier and even a vegetable garden.
In the same year, her school won the ‘Best School Award’ awarded to government schools by the Department of Primary Education, Chennai.
Sathy also made sure that students felt engaged during classes. Speaking to The Times of India, Sathy said, “We replaced blackboards with green boards, in which we can use magnets to place maps or pictures for students.”
Along with studies, she also makes sure that students are exposed to extracurricular activities through classes in yoga, art and self-defence.
One of the initiatives she is most lauded for is the ‘Kutti Commandos’, where students from class 5 spread awareness about open defecation. The students, with support from their parents, go on rounds early in the morning, to catch people relieving themselves in the open.
Speaking to The News Minute about this initiative, she says “They note down their names (people caught defecating in the open) and bring it to me, which I will forward to the panchayat president. Then, after enquiry, the panchayat officials would make arrangements to build a toilet for them or arrange for one. The squad also inspects public toilets in the area to ensure water supply, cleanliness, etc.”
Her initiatives have not stopped there.
Presently, she is putting together a student team who will combat plastic by raising awareness about a plastic-free society.
In an interview with Deccan Chronicle, Sathy elaborated on the initiative, “We are planning to transform our campus into a plastic-free campus, where students will be encouraged to use alternatives for commonly used plastic products like water bottles, pencil boxes, among others. The aim is to ban the usage of plastic in our village, and we plan to start with our school.”
She even managed to include children of migrant workers in the school rolls. She told TOI, “Today, about 42 children of north Indian labourers study in the school. One of them gave a Tamil speech for Kamarajar’s birthday.”
R Sathy is not just a teacher but an impact maker. By setting out to provide education to all children, she has set the students on a path where they can create a meaningful future for themselves as well as the country.
A bow of respect to the teacher and her students for their exemplary morals.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)