"Once a week, we go to a neighbourhood in the village with the school students and hold an assembly there. The assembly is an open event and the residents of the locality, as well as parents of children, can come and witness."
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Education has the potential to elevate a person and their family through the inculcation of social responsibility, increased awareness and improved financial conditions. Even as educationists are propagating the need for literacy, thousands are deprived of a proper education thanks to outdated teaching methods or a lack of true commitment. However, one school in Gujarat is changing this in a very innovative fashion.
Gopalkrishna Patel, the principal of Nava Nadisar Primary School in Godhra, Gujarat, realised that hundreds of children in the district were not taking admissions in any school. Many of these students came from economically backward families, for whom education seemed like a futile expense.
Especially for those kids whose parents were not very well educated, only second-hand experiences and rumours filled in their idea of what a school was.
To highlight the importance of schooling amidst such feelings, Patel decided to take the school assembly to various neighbourhoods of his Godhra village.
Speaking to The Times of India, he said, “Once a week, we go to a neighbourhood in the village with the school students and hold an assembly there. The assembly is an open event and the residents of the locality, as well as parents of children, can come and witness.”
He calls this initiative, the Mohalla Prarthana Sabha. This way, parents, as well as children who have dropped out of school, get intrigued by school activities and make attempts to join in.
And Patel’s initiative is not without results.
He says that about 30-35 students have taken admission in his school since this initiative started five years ago. Since the Nava Nadisar Primary School has a strength of about 300 students, a 10% increase in admissions is success enough.
It’s not just the assembly that is unique though.
The school focuses on making education a coherent activity for students and teachers. Outdoor classes, games to inculcate the habit of reading and intimate discussions about various subjects are what make the school a fun place. “Our approach is that of first understanding the students and then teaching them,” Patel told TOI.
The principal’s efforts and initiative were recognised by the Union Government and UNICEF. In 2017, Rakesh Patel, a teacher from the school, was selected for the National Award to Teachers.
With unique efforts like these, teachers and schools are proving that when it comes to education, one size certainly doesn’t fit all. It also tells us that we need to approach illiteracy according to the particular needs of students, parents and the society in the bigger picture.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)