Seven years ago, Surender Singh became eligible to be promoted from a primary teacher to a TGT (Trained Graduate Teacher), who can teach students from class VI to X. The North MCD school teacher turned down the opportunity because he wanted to “continue working for the holistic development” of younger children. This year, he became one of 47 teachers from across the country to be selected for the Ministry of Education’s annual National Awards to Teachers.
The ministry’s Department of School Education and Literacy released the final list of selected teachers for the prestigious award Thursday. Two of the 47 teachers selected are from Delhi — Jyoti Arora is the principal of Mount Abu Public School in Rohini Sector 5, while Singh has been a teacher with schools of the North MCD for the last 21 years.
The 714 primary schools run by the North MCD are resource-strapped and cater to children from economically strained families, who in most cases are first-generation learners. Singh, who teaches at a school in Northwest Delhi’s Sarai Pipal Thala, has an exceptional track record.
The last five times he has been in charge of fifth-graders in his school, 166 of his students cleared the entrance to Rajkiya Pratibha Vikas Vidyalayas — exclusive resource-rich schools run by the Delhi government, to which admissions take place through competitive entrance exams. This is an average of 33.2 students per year from a class making it to these premier schools.
Whenever it is time for his fifth graders to appear for their RPVV entrance exam, Singh oversees aspects of their exam process — he fills up their application forms, speaks to parents, and even hires a bus on the day of the exam to ferry all the students to their centre.
He is notably proud of his students’ achievements in one particular year. “In 2015-2016, I had a class of 57 fifth graders, of which 42 were admitted to RPVV Civil Lines, six had been admitted to RPVV BT Block Shalimar Bagh, and two cleared the entrance examination to a Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya,” he said.
That same year, 56 of his students received merit scholarships from the MCD. Every year, the MCD holds merit scholarship exams for all students of class IV and V, of whom 2,500 from the 714 North MCD schools win Rs 1,000 and a certificate. In the last 10 years, 323 of his students have won the scholarship.
Singh said the achievements of his young students are built by creating an emotional attachment with them: “Most of the children in our schools live in jhuggis, a lot of them are exposed to harsh experiences from a young age. We need to build an emotional relationship with them, like the one we have with our children. When we do that, they share all their problems and it becomes possible to help them. I also counsel parents and create hope in them about what regular schooling can do for their children. This increases their involvement and dedication in education as well. In the 16 years I’ve been at my school, the number of students has increased from 300 to 600,” he said.
Arora, meanwhile, has been principal of Mount Abu School for 19 years. “I am fond of experimenting with many new things in my school, but among the initiatives I’m most proud of is our dedication to the 27 sustainable development goals which are reinforced in our students in all kinds of ways — in charts across the school, in competitions, in assembly. We have also designed our own curriculum from KG to class XII just dedicated to this area of global citizenship.”
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