Punjab’s first Lifetime Achievement Award for Teachers will be jointly awarded to Sister Mirabell (98) and Swaran Singh (72) for their exemplary service in the field of education. The awards will be distributed on Teachers’ Day.
Sister Mirabell teaches at Ludhiana’s Sacred Heart Convent School. She left her home in Karnataka in 1965 and started the school with the help of the district administration. The school, which follows the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) curriculum, has classes till the 12th grade.
Although Sister Mirabell has retired from teaching, she still stays on campus and looks after the welfare of the students.
Swaran Singh is the principal of a unique institute – one that is both a school and college, in Gurdaspur. Swaran left his teaching job at the government middle school in Harchowal village in the same district to start his own senior secondary school in 1986. From an initial strength of 14 girls, the school now serves 5,000 students.
The state board school, with just five teachers, is mostly run by the students themselves with the seniors teaching their juniors. Even in the college – Baba Aaya Singh Raiarki College affiliated to Guru Nanak Dev University – that offers a BA degree, most of the schooling is done by students themselves with just five teachers supervising them.
Appreciating the unique model that Swaran Singh follows, Education Minister Dr Daljeet Singh Cheema said, “”The senior students teach junior students. Students themselves manage funds, cook food in hostel mess and manage all administrative work. It is perhaps unique in the whole country. And the annual fee for day scholars is only Rs 800 per annum while for hostellers, it is Rs 5,500 per annum only.”
Swaran Singh recalled that once when he asked the district administration for funds for the school, the students’ body imposed a fine on him for raising the demand without consulting them.
“Here, students are the managers. They have always brought 100 per cent results,” said Swaran Singh.
“Both Swaran Singh and Sister Mirabell are are a source of inspiration for many. They will will be honoured with a prize money of Rs 1 lakh each apart from certificate of honour,” said Cheema.
Prize money for other teachers increased
The state award prize money has been increased for Rs 10,000 to Rs 25,000 this year.