Donations from private individuals to government schools in Punjab are not uncommon, but Shider Pal, an elementary teacher, has been donating to his own school, mostly to pay for basic amenities.
A government teacher since 2002, Pal has been teaching at the Government Elementary School, Phullo Khari in Talwandi Sabo block of Bathinda district. In 2015, he donated over Rs 1.80 lakh to the school for a host of daily needs — from a water camper to uniforms and diaries for students. At times, he has also spent on fixing floor tiles, cement, a sound system for morning assembly and CCTV cameras for classrooms. His donations have now been officially listed by the education department among the major donations received by the state government schools from private individuals.
“I have heard stories of how some teachers were not really concerned for the children whom they taught and I made up my mind that I would not hesitate to do anything which was required for their welfare,” Pal told The Indian Express.
The government says that it is not a usual practice for a school to depend on donations for basic infrastructure.
“The government spends crores on infrastructure of the schools as well as mid-day meals but we should not be looking towards it each time we want to gets something done. We have given appreciation letters to Shinder P2al and have also honoured him on the Teachers Day this year,” H S Sandhu said, DPI (Elementary).
But in the same breath, the government doesn’t seem to want to promise increased spending in schools.
“We cannot take any money from the children. So either you (teachers) take donations or spend from (your) pocket. You set an example by spending from own means and this motivates people from the society to donate too,” Sandhu said.
Sandhu agreed that it was not possible for every teacher to spend out of his own means for school purposes but added that there were many teachers who do so, especially in the elementary wing. There was still no promise of wanting to move the government machinery into spending more on school infrastructure.
Pal, however, seems to have gotten the message. He is ready to spend more for students, if the need arises.
“My wife is also a teacher in a private school, and though we have two children of our own, whose needs we have to take care of, we have decided that we will do whatever we can for the students,” he said.