Teacher's Day Special: A school that changed thousands of lives

Teacher's Day Special: Dr SB Misra, a geologist, quit his well-paying job in Canada and came back to Kunaura, his village near Lucknow, to set up a school for children who had been deprived of basic education for decades. Thanks to his efforts, young boys and girls, can now afford to dream big

"After completing my 10th, I was about to quit my schooling as there were no schools nearby," said Tajammul Husain, 65, who lives in Sulemabad village near Kunaura in Lucknow district of Uttar Pradesh. Earlier, there were no schools in the vicinity of 12 kms of this village. Out of helplessness, students would quit schooling before completing their 10th and 12th.

However, a good Samaritan was determined to change the status quo.

"As a kid, when I had to walk 12 kms to reach my school, I always questioned myself why weren't there any school in my village? This thought stayed with me even while I was studying in Canada. One day, I decided to quit everything and returned," said Dr Shiv Balak Misra, a Canada-returned geologist and founder of Bhartiya Gramin Vidyalaya.

Dr SB Misra, a geologist, well-known for making the discovery of the missing link in Darwin's theory, quit his well-paid job in Canada and returned to establish a school in an area untouched by education for decades. Now, thanks to his efforts, young girls, who had never stepped out of their homes, can afford to dream big. This village school has provided education to tens of hundred village kids so far.

The founder of Bhartiya Gramin Vidyalaya Dr SB Misra had to walk 12 kms to reach the nearest school as there were not many schools nearby. In a bid to fulfil his dream of setting up a school in his village, he quit his luxurious lifestyle and a well-paying job and came back to impart education to children living in villages who were deprived of basic education.


After returning, Dr SB Misra, along with his wife Nirmala Misra, a teacher by profession, established Bhartiya Gramin Vidyalaya in Kunaura, 35 kms from Uttar Pradesh's capital, Lucknow, in 1972.

Tajammul Husain is among the first batch of students who passed out from this school. "As soon as I got to know that Dr SB Misra was back from Canada and was planning to set up a school in the village, I was the first one to enrol in the school," he said.

Three generations of the Tajammul's family have benefitted from this school. His nephew Faraz Husain is an alumnus of this school. Faraz is now a graphic designer by profession working with a renowned media house based in Lucknow. Faraz saw a computer for the first time in this village school. "When I saw a computer for the first time in my school, I wondered about various functions it could perform. Thanks to the opportunities that were provided at the school, I can now design graphics using this computer," said Faraz.

Around 600-700 students study here. Talking about the special bond that she shares with the school, Prachi Mishra, a class 9 student, said: "My papa and my brother have studied in this school."

This school is not just helping kids from the impoverished background by teaching them at their hi-tech knowledge centre based in the school, the staff also encourages village girls, who earlier would never step out of their homes, to pursue higher education.


Dr SB Misra said that he doesn't want to put any kind of burden on parents when it comes to schooling. "Our aim is to provide quality education to these students. We don't want to put any kind of burden on their parents," added Dr SB Misra.

Initially, for Nirmala Misra, a teacher by profession and ex-principal of Bhartiya Gramin Vidyalaya, it was odd to imagine that a Canada-returned geologist, whom she got married to, dreamt of establishing a school in a village. In this journey full of highs and lows, Nirmala has been a pillar of strength and constantly supported her husband in achieving his dream. Reminiscing about the challenging days of her journey she said: "One day when Misra jee and I were at my parent's home, he said that we could no longer run this school. I felt very bad. I then said that we would run this school till we are alive. I asked him to take up a job, while I took charge of the school."

"I raised kids while my wife raised this school," said Dr SB Misra while talking his wife's contribution to the school.

"In the initial days, it was very challenging to make people understand the concept of a school," said Nirmala Misra who had to go out of her way to break conventional taboos of those living in villages.

"Earlier, when we would visit these villagers, they would say that we were there to misguide their daughters and daughters-in-law. But in the end, we won their trust," she said.

Dr SB Misra with his wife, Nirmala MisraDr SB Misra with his wife, Nirmala Misra

Initially, due to the lack of enough resources, the school was set up under a thatched roof -- the only classroom had basic facilities, which included a wooden blackboard.

Ramchandra Bajpai, who completed his schooling from this school, is now serving as a teacher in this school. "When I came here, there was only a single room. The area was a jungle here then and we had to wade through water to reach here."

But after a successful tenure of 47 years, this school is akin to any school in the cities. "We even have online classes," said Prachi Mishra, a class 9 student.

Besides computer classes, this village school has prided the students all the facilities that any school in a city would have provided. Sitting on a raised platform made under a big tree, Dr SB Misra said: "I don't have any regrets that I quit a luxurious lifestyle and a job in Canada. I have earned more than I have lost."

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