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Teacher Spends Rs 3 Lakh Savings To Transform Govt School, Student Strength Rises by 5X!

Assigned to a Government school lacking even basic amenities, Madhya Pradesh school teacher Gopal Bhalwala used up Rs 3 lakh from his savings to overhaul the entire facility, install water facilities, build a library, and grow a garden from scratch.

Teacher Spends Rs 3 Lakh Savings To Transform Govt School, Student Strength Rises by 5X!

What propels a person to undertake something they’ve never done before? To embark on a monumental task, armed with only faith in their heart? According to Gopal Bhalwala, a Government teacher in Rajgarh, Madhya Pradesh, “All it takes is passion.”

So, when he undertook the challenge of transforming the condition of the dilapidated school he was assigned to teach in 2018, he did so with unwavering determination.

“On the risk of sounding too unrealistic, I want to emphasise that at the time of renovating the school, I had nothing but a passion towards education. The school had under 23 students back then, and today, we have more than 100,” Gopal tells The Better India.

The increase in the number of students at the Integrated Middle School in Mohanpura Colony was made possible after Gopal took on the mission of renovating the school. Towards this, he spent Rs 3 lakh from his own pocket, using which he revamped the walls and washrooms, planted a garden, brought water to the school, and set up a library.

Transforming a neglected school

When Gopal was assigned to the middle school, what greeted him were a handful of students and four poorly lit classrooms masquerading as a school.

“The school was in a deplorable state, to put it mildly. The walls lacked paint, and there was a noticeable lack of enthusiasm in the students’ eyes, which troubled me the most. However, I could empathise because even I wouldn’t want to study in such conditions,” he reflects.

Gopal explains that most of the students and residents hailed from villages near the Mohanpura Dam. “The construction of the dam forced these people to relocate. The Government built a few houses and roads, and labelled it Mohanpura Colony. However they did not create any employment for the people displaced who had lost their lands and had no avenue of income. So most of the people were worried about bringing food to the table at the time, and educational concerns were far from being in their mind,” he says.

Old school (top right) and the newly transformed school
Old school (top right) and the newly transformed school.

He continues, “Also while setting up the colony for the people, the villagers were given a broken-down building to be used for a school.”

For almost more than a year, Gopal struggled to bring students to attend the school. “There were more dropouts. So I decided to go out in the evening, mingle with the community, and talk to them about sending the kids to school,” he says.

While he was able to convince the parents, he realised the students would not like the conditions they were being taught in. “Of course, it would be boring to study in such a school. There was no water connection in the school, and the walls were dark and boring. There was nothing in the school to attract the children,” he shares.

Wanting to bring improvements to the school, he looked for funds. “While I knew, there were funds allocated to bring such improvements, the bureaucracy of it all would take too much time. So I decided to invest my own money to make the school better,” he says.

Of wall paintings and a library of magic

In 2020, when the pandemic hit, Gopal found the perfect opportunity to make use of his free time. “I started to plant saplings all around the school so that it blooms into a garden when it is time for students to come back. Since there was no water connection in the school, I decided to buy a tanker of water to maintain the garden,” he says.

The tanker would cost about Rs 300 and would last for a week. Calling himself an “artist” of sorts, he says that he wanted to do something fun with the walls.

“The walls were mundane and not fit for a school. I wanted to paint animals, birds, murals and whatnot on them. I undertook the task of making the place the most colourful building in the area,” he says.

Upon entering the school now, one is no longer greeted by a shabby-looking building; it’s as if a rainbow itself has splashed colours onto the structure.

Gopal shares, “I cleaned up the surroundings of the school and adorned the walls, and even the ceilings, with colourful paints, creating images and inscribing inspirational messages. The outcome was a cheerful, radiant, and lively environment.”

Gopal also set up a new library in the school.
Gopal also set up a new library in the school.

Once the outward appearance of the school improved, he turned his attention to filling it with books. “I started a library, housing as many as 2,000 books for the children to explore and read. I aimed to create a fun and conducive environment for them to learn,” he explains.

As the pandemic subsided, more and more students began enrolling. “The students were amazed to see the transformation of the school. With water, proper lighting, painted walls, and a library awaiting them, word started to spread, and more students began to arrive,” he remarks.

Currently, with over 100 students, the school is teeming with creative minds. “The shift in parents’ conversations and attitudes towards the school is striking. Now, they find it unusual if their children are at home during school hours,” he notes.

‘We don’t wanna go home’

Amidst the crackling sound of a bad network over the phone was the enthusiastic voice of a student studying in Class 10, Shivani.

She recalls, “I clearly remember the old school. It was a school in name only. It did not have water or proper washrooms. But I love studying and did not want to miss out on it. But now, the school has changed completely. Gopal sir has always been a great teacher, but he is also a great person. The school now has water supply, mid-day meals, proper classrooms with beautifully painted walls, and also a library!”

Shivani says she loves to read and thoroughly enjoys the library. “Pehle school aane ka mann nahi hota tha, ab ghar jaane ka man nahi hota hai (Earlier, I did not like coming to school, and now, I don’t feel like going home),” she shares.

Supporting this claim is Sonu Verma, who is currently a student in Class 7. “Earlier, it used to be so hot inside the school. There were no trees or shade around the building. Now, the school has so many beautiful plants all around. There are lights and fans that keep the classes cool,” he says.

He hand-painted birds, animals, flowers and motivational quotes on the walls and ceiling.
He hand-painted birds, animals, flowers and motivational quotes on the walls and ceiling.

Sonu says he wants to become a teacher when he grows up — just like his favourite Gopal sir!  He adds that the school’s colourfully painted walls are his favourite part of the school.

Gopal informs that he keeps the kids involved by taking their help in maintaining the school. “This way they feel ownership and responsibility of the school too,” he notes.

Speaking about future plans, he shares, “The number of students is increasing, and I have already alerted the authorities that we will need more rooms. I also want to introduce smart education to the school. I have been planning on purchasing LED televisions and other equipment to facilitate this.”

Reflecting on his achievements, he says, “While I have expended a considerable portion of my savings for this cause, what gives me immense satisfaction is the smiles on the students’ faces. They are more enthusiastic than ever to come to school. That makes it all worthwhile.”

You can help Gopal in bringing smart education to the school by donating in cash or kind. You can reach him here 7566955502.

(Edited by Pranita Bhat; All images credit: Gopal)

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