For the last 15 years, Dattatrey Sakat and his wife Bebinanda, both Zilla Parishad primary school teachers, have worked out a unique model, one that is being implemented across many schools in the district.
The couple, who have not taken a single day off from work, run the state’s first 365 days a year Zilla Parishad school at Kardelwadi in Shirur taluka. The school has no holidays, no fixed periods and has a flexible curriculum. The – to free students from conventional textbook education and focus on holistic development of students that combines academics and co-curricular activities.
Their hard work has now been acknowledged nationally. Bebinanda has been chosen as one of the five teachers from Pune district who will receive a National Award from the President on Teacher’s Day on September 5 this year.
Bebinanda, who received the news late Thursday night, is ecstatic, but says it puts on her additional responsibility. “Till today, we worked on maintaining quality in education, which reflected when our students who passed out of fourth standard got admission in big institutions like Sainik School and Dnyan Prabhodini. Now, we are taking up a bigger challenge of providing a guarantee card to parents of the 85-odd students we have, a promise of enhancing capacity of students,” she says.
While the Sakats rose to fame for their 365-day school model, it is getting his school ISO certified which made headmaster Kailas Gunjal from ZP Primary School at Khedekarwasti (Khamgaon) in Daund taluka popular amongst his peers.
“Fifty per cent of the 60 students we have are children of sugarcane labourers and I think our biggest achievement is that instead of decreasing each year, the number of students is increasing each year. We have 100% attendance. Our school has complete e-learning facilities, besides computer and science labs. We have a special programme where we analyse the strengths and weaknesses of our students and work on their skills like reading, writing or speaking. Our emphasis is on personality development and we have equal emphasis on sports, developing civic sense as academics,” he said.
For one of the other winners, not only are each one of his 318 students special to him but he himself has won the National Award in the special category. Afflicted with polio since childhood, headmaster Shailendra Vishnu Chikhale of ZP school at Mordewadi in Ambegaon taluka never let his disability bother him. And he hopes to inspire the same in his students.
The school has in the past won many awards, including ideal school award by Pune ZP last year.
Ask him the proof of his success and he says, “When I joined five years back, there were 260 students. Today, the number is 318. Many parents have pulled their children out of private and English-medium schools and sent them here. Maybe our method to teaching appeals to them,” he says.
At this ISO certified school too, facilities like e-learning, playgrounds, a library with 2,000 books and a computer lab are a given. “What sets us apart is that we keep having programmes for student welfare beyond academics. Like calling in doctors to counsel girls who cross age of puberty, interaction with police and NGO members on varied topics like crimes against children, good touch-bad touch and so on,” he says.
The other awardees are Anil Palande, assistant teacher at ZP primary school at Jategaon, Shirur taluka, and headmaster Zambare Arun Sadaba from S M Joshi Vidyalaya at Hadapsar.