March 23, 2016 11:32:28 am
Parents queue up to get their child admitted to the school right after birth. Teachers ask students to leave their bags behind at the end of the day, and not to study at home. The school itself is open until 8 pm every day for coaching classes, sports and extracurricular activities.
The Government Primary School in this small village upends every popular perception of a state-run school. So much so that the village panchayat now refuses to let the teacher couple who have run it since 2002 leave.
Government teachers Surinder Singh and his wife Renu Singla were posted at the school 14 years ago, and are credited with its turnaround. Pharmacists by training, they wrote the ETT exam to become teachers.
Government primary schools start from class 1. But at this school, besides the government-run, Surinder and Renu have set up on their own a small kindergarten.
“We treat the Anganwari centre as Nursery and LKG for the toddlers. The centre is being run by the government in one room of the school. We have started UKG on our own in one of the rooms so as to strengthen the base of students when they come to class 1,” said Surinder, who heads the school.
There are 30 students at any time in the UKG class, 40 in the Anganwari, and 158 in the school.
“Villagers from upto 6-7 km distance prefer to send their wards to this school irrespective of the fact that there are other primary schools in their villages as well,” said Ranjit Singh, president of the village sports club, whose son Amarinder is a class 2 student in the school.
Ranit Singh said parents book their children a seat in class 1 three years ahead by enrolling them at the Anganwari.
Pardeep Singla and Satpal Singh are the two other teachers on government rolls, while two volunteers and an Anganwari centre employee also assist in teaching and taking care of kids.
“We start the school at 9pm as per government timings and normal classes run till 3 pm. From 3pm-4pm, all teachers run extra classes in which we teach students the subject in which they are weak. We identify different students as per their class performance,” said Renu.
Except Renu and Surinder, all other staff leave at 4pm. After a short snack break for students, the couple then start sports and extra curricular classes which run till 6.30 pm.
“We are state champions in Kho Kho in the recently held School games while our students have also got prizes in skipping, athletics at state level a number of times. So all students do their practice as per the game chosen by them.”
After 6.30 pm, the couple reserves 90 minutes for students who want to consult them on difficulties in any subject.
“Even our former students who are now in middle or high school come back to us for assistance and we teach them free of cost. More than 40 such students come on a regular basis to us,” said Renu.
“Evenings are the most happening in this school, and one can come and see the multifarious activities being done by the teachers,” said Sarpanch Gurcharan Singh whose grand daughter is enrolled at the anganwari.
It is 8 pm when the school shuts down and Renu and Surinder walk back to their home nearby. Their only son is an electrical engineering student in IIT Kanpur. The school is open on Sundays too, when the husband and wife prepare students for inter-school competitions, or provide extra coaching.
Ramanpreet Kaur, a class 5 student who recently scored third prize in state level declamation contest, said,” We do everything in school and carry no baggage back home. Our parents get to see our notebooks at parent-teacher meetings.”
Every class has 35 students. For Renu, what adds to the satisfaction of her and her husband’s mission is that every year, five students from the school get admission to the Navodaya Vidyalaya, Sangrur.
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