A classroom full of tiny tots in the Begumpur Government Primary School, Bahraich district, turned into a vibrant space when none other than Mala Srivastava, the District Magistrate (DM), donned the hat of a teacher and interacted with the students.
And she did not stop at that. Later, the IAS officer from Uttar Pradesh sat with the children on the ground and partook in the midday meal.
The district head who was visiting the school to inspect the infrastructure and learning outcomes, decided to pick the chalk and duster and teach the students who seemed quite delighted to listen to her speak.
In a video interview with India Today, one of the students was asked, how he liked her class. He shyly smiled and said, “Acchi (Nice).”
When asked who he wanted to be when he grows up, the young boy confidently said, “DM.”
Before you think that this is a one-off initiative for the DM, let us tell you that she is the brains behind the district’s ‘Vidyaa Daan, Ek Aadarsh Daan‘ (Imparting Education, An Ideal Donation) initiative.
As part of the initiative, people from different walks of life have been roped in to voluntarily teach government school students one hour a week.
Speaking about the campaign in an interview with Outlook India, the DM said, “Intellectuals of the society, be it the government officials, retired employees, teachers in schools and colleges, educated housewives or youngsters, were urged to join the campaign (which was started in September).”
The impact of the initiative reflects in the improved learning outcomes in over 400 government primary schools where these volunteers are taking out time to teach the kids.
She added that the plan is to build at least 10 ‘Aadarsh Vidyalaya’ (model schools) in each of the development blocks of the district. These schools will stand apart for their structure, creative research by teachers, children parliaments and cabinets and meritorious results.
The idea is to not just impart education but set an example for the rest of the 3,400 government primary schools in the district from Class I to Class V.
Anupama Jaiswal, the UP Minister of State for Basic Education, who also chaired the district review meeting along with the magistrate, added how they wanted to establish a system where intellectuals teach the kids.
She added how there is no compulsion for these volunteers to teach. Narrating their success stories, sharing their experiences, interacting with the children or even inquiring about the well being, is also encouraged.
“Until and unless the society forges a direct relationship with government schools, people will continue to remain indifferent towards [them]. I want that such campaigns should be gradually replicated across the state. And, for the first time, it seems that people have started to realise that they will change the perception and picture of the education system in the government schools. “Basic shikshaa, buniyaadi shikshaa hai” (basic education is underlying education),” she told Outlook.
Last month, in a tweet, the Niti Aayog applauded the initiative.
“#EducationForChange: In the #AspirationalDistrict Bahraich, over 700 youth, doctors, retired teachers & government officials volunteered for the ‘Vidyadaan Campaign’ last month. @DMBahraich Mala Srivastava is looking forward to developing 200 demonstration schools in the district.”
The vision of the District Magistrate is admirable. Let’s hope other districts throughout the state also take a leaf out of her book and work towards accessible and quality education for all!
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)