This is the amazing story of a man who has transformed the face of a government school in an extremely remote village in Bihar. Such is his passion and commitment to the children of the village that he broke down while telling us the story of his struggle, a struggle that continues to this day because he will not rest till he gets better resources and facilities for his school.
Badwankala, a small village in Bihar, is located 1,500 feet above sea level. This hilltop village has no electricity, water and even connectivity to the main road. It was only a few months ago that the first vehicles started reaching this place, otherwise there was no other way to get here but to walk.
Most people in this remote area haven’t even stepped out of the village their entire lives. But there is a man here who runs a school where students recite English poems, excel academically, and are dressed like private school students.
Meet Madan Yadav, a government school teacher who aspires to transform his school and village.
“Our village is just like what it was when the country became independent. We are stuck in 1947. There are no facilities. Can you believe people here have not even seen a train in their entire lives?” asks Madan.
Madan completed his primary education in Badwankala and then went off to a school located 20 km far from the village. After completing intermediate college, he worked as a school teacher in a private school for five years. But the sad state of education in his own village kept haunting him.
“There is literally no facility in our village. We have to walk at least a kilometre to fetch water. There is no electricity and there are no roads. I do not have words to explain the misery of the residents here. I contacted government officials so many times but no action was taken by them,” says Madan.
When Madan returned to his village in 2003, he promised himself that he would do everything possible to change the education scenario in Badwankala. He went to the same government school where he had studied as a child and became a teacher there.
“The condition of the school was terrible. It was started in 1953 but hardly anyone went to the school. I opened the locks and took charge,” he recalls.
He started spreading awareness about education in the village and asked people to send their kids to school. To better the facilities and attract more students, he made the best possible use of the government’s Sarv Siksha Abhigyan. Free books, uniforms, mid-day meals. and financial incentives were part of the programme and Madan utilised them to the fullest to draw village children to the school.
The classes began to fill up. While most government schools have a difficult time attracting students, Madan’s school began to fall short of classes to accommodate students.
“The scheme does not include a tie in the uniform. So, to attract students, I gave them ties and began to teach them the importance of being properly dressed. Every child in my school looks like a well dressed private school student in a neat uniform,” says Madan with pride.
With help from five other teachers, Madan also tried to make school more interesting for the children by involving them in events like Independence Day, Republic Day, etc. They also invited the children’s guardians and families to the school to witness their progress and involve them in their kids’ education.
The school has a stage and mike where students give impressive performances. Students are also taught to play musical instruments like tabla and harmonium.
In addition, drama, painting and other activities also form an important part of the school curriculum.
“People think government schools are the worst. And they are not totally wrong. Teachers hardly pay attention to the children in these schools; they just go there as a formality and students too don’t show up. In our school the teachers are very dedicated and everyday we have above 85% attendance in school,” says Madan.
Although the school is short on facilities, it has a small playground where children take part in sports. Madan has left no stone unturned in his efforts to better the school. There were literally tears in his eyes when, during a meeting with the District Education Officer, he begged that improvements be made in his school. Due to Madan’s constant efforts, the primary school was extended to 9th standard and later to 11th class.
“Around 500 students from two nearby villages come to attend the school. I try my best to teach them too, but I cannot do everything. We need more teachers and facilities,” he says.
Reviving the almost defunct school was not an easy task, especially in a village where access to water is a challenge. The women in the village have to walk one kilometre every day to get water for their families’ needs, including for cooking, drinking and even bathing.
“It is not easy to get water for 500 students. We have four women working with us as cooks for the mid-day meal programme. Two of them go and get water every day. I really hope the government pays more attention to our neglected village so that at least people here can get basic facilities. No one ever comes here — no government official, no visitors, no tourists. And why will they come? There is nothing here. We are so cut off from the main road,” he says.
Madan’s hard work with the students has not gone to waste. Several of his students have moved out of the village, have good jobs and are earning a decent living. Two of them have even joined the Indian Navy.
Madan has recently purchased a laptop and is learning how to use the internet so that he can reach out to more people and get better facilities for his school.
“There are only six rooms here. We need at least four more to accommodate the students. Also, the playground’s boundary wall is broken. We need to repair that and fix the ground, which is uneven and students sometimes hurt themselves while playing. We are not asking much from the government. All we want is some more teachers and more rooms, as we are not able to manage 500 students in such tiny premises. When the country is progressing so much, it hurts me to see this region being neglected. Don’t these people have the right to a better life?” asks Madan.
He has a lump in his throat as he talks more about the poor state of his village. In fact, he is so overcome with emotion that he soon stops speaking altogether. But his silence is enough to express how desperately he needs help.
If you would like to extend your support to this passionate teacher to help him improve his school, you can reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will help you get in touch with him.