Hanif Sindhi/DNA School is never locked Villagers volunteer to keep the school clean without any pay 100% attendance & results Kitchen garden, medicinal plants Girls do batting, while boys do fielding when they play cricket Ahmedabad: Every morning, Ashokbhai Patel and Sureshbhai Patel (not related) start their bikes and ride nearly 25-30km from the dusty industrial belt of Naroda on the outskirts of Ahmedabad to Bhatipura (Chaulaj). If it’s a rainy day, they park on the main road and walk through farms for 30 minutes to reach their destination – the Bhatipura Primary School. It’s a routine they have followed unfailingly for the past four years.
The hardwork and dedication has paid off. The district primary education office has decided to transform a classroom of the government primary school into a smart classroom, making it the first-ever such initiative. Located in a Thakore-dominated village, the two-room school houses 26 children from classes I-V. Ashokbhai and Sureshbhai are its two pillars. Handling all subjects and all classes between the two of them, they have ensured 100 per cent attendance as well as results. If that wasn’t impressive enough, the duo has gone beyond the call of duty to transform the landscape of the place as well as mindscapes of locals.
The school campus boasts of a wide variety of medicinal plants. They have also helped villagers kick their addiction to booze.
Mahesh Mehta, district primary education officer, said, “Not only did the results impress me, but I was floored by the teachers’ hard work. During a surprise visits, I found the teachers teaching students even though it was 7 pm, way beyond school hours.” Mehta said he was also moved by their efforts at helping the village folk.
“Hence, I thought instead of awards, the teachers should be rewarded in a different style by developing a classroom as India’s best classroom. I adopted the PPP model and roped in an NGO named Yuva Unstopabble to fund the facilities. Approximately Rs10 lakh has been spent on upgrading the classroom,” said Mehta.
A quick walk through the school indicates work on the smart classroom is halfway through. Once ready, it will have wooden flooring, an air conditioner, an LED screen, a projector and Wi-Fi. Plans are also afoot to build a concrete pathway inside the campus leading to the building.
Mehta says the smart classroom will be inaugurated in mid-July once benches are ready and other work is completed. “We will be announcing it as India’s best classroom in a government school.” Speaking about his journey, Ashokbhai said, “When we first came to this school, we found snakes and scorpions. There was no toilet. Suresbhai and I first convinced the villagers and, together, we constructed the toilet. We painted the school walls and grew 50 papaya trees for their medicinal benefits. The fruits are given to the children.” The most striking feature of the school is it’s never locked.
Ajitbhai Jhala, the owner of the plot, said, “My father gave this land for the school, but it lay in a shambles for all these years. But these teachers have changed its fate.”