Recently, G Satish, the headmaster of a government primary school in Adavidevulapalli village, which is located in Telengana’s Nalagonda district, took an unusual step.
He put up a notice informing locals that he would not arrive late at the school premises by even one minute and would not leave a minute before the school closes for the day.
The 30-year-old even made the bold claim that if he did not abide by this rule, the village panchayat leaders would be free to deduct one day’s worth of his salary and spend it on the welfare of the school.
“The decision to put up this signboard wasn’t take in haste. It’s something I thought about long and hard, and with this message, I want to prove to the children in this village that I am dedicated to their education. See, approximately 80% of them attend my school, but I want the 20% who study in nearby private schools to join my school, which is a government school. I have received a lot of encouragement from the Mandal Education Officer Balu Nayak,” says Satish, speaking to The Better India.
He spent the entirety of last year to test whether he could come to school on time every day. On the two occasions that he did not succeed, he was working to obtain labour and cement bags to get some repair work done at the school.
Originally from Madgulapally village in Nalagonda district, Satish has an MSc in mathematics and a BEd degree. He began teaching at the school in November 2010. At the time, there were just 21 students.
For four years, Satish went from door to door, convincing parents to send their children to his school, instead of the three private schools in the vicinity, with a guarantee that he would be fully responsible for their education. He even took the trouble of spending his own money to construct toilets and other facilities in the school.
It worked! Within four years, the number of students in the school had tripled to 63.
“None of the students who came to this government school from private schools have dropped out, and that is so satisfying. Besides improving the school’s ambience, I also urged some of the parents to compare the quality of education that children were receiving in my school, in comparison to those in private schools. What they found out was that our students were performing better in every respect,” says Satish, speaking to TBI.
Today the headmaster teaches multiple subjects across Class 3, 4 and 5. Such was his dedication to the school; he would, until last year, travel 110 km both ways from his village to the school and back on his two-wheeler.
This year he has shifted to Miryalaguda village which is slightly closer, and his commute has reduced to 82 km.
Although he receives no travel allowance, it’s not something that particularly bothers him. He comes to school an hour early every day. His only objective is to arrive at school before 9 am and leave only after 4 pm.
“However, a lot more work needs to be done to improve the appearance of our school. We need better infrastructure, budget and facilities like play toys for children. Currently, we receive a budget of only Rs 10,000 a year. To enrol more children into this school, I am planning on making a transition to digital education. We need computers, projectors, and other digital teaching tools. Any contribution in this regard would be most helpful,” he says.
(With inputs from Kevin Ronith Kumar)
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)