Here's how two farmers sowed the seeds of learning in Shivdaspur village of Uttar Pradesh
Shivdaspur village in Shahjahanpur district of Uttar Pradesh had no primary school. Children had to walk to neighbouring villages to study. Two philanthropic farmers from the village donated their land and set the kids on the path of learning.
Ramji Mishra 22 Feb 2022 1:52 PM GMT
Shivdaspur (Shahjahanpur), Uttar Pradesh
Bhoopram and Tejram are no more. They passed away in 2017 and in 2019 respectively, both aged 70 years. But, the two farmers from Shivdaspur village in Tilhar tehsil, Shahjahanpur district, did something in their lifetime that continues to live and thrive.
Bhoopram, who owned barely ten bighas of land (1 bigha = 0.25 hectare approximately), donated half a bigha for the purpose of setting up a school for the village children, who otherwise had to travel considerable distances to schools in neighbouring towns. Many children dropped out of school because of this.
Following in his footsteps, Tejram, a fellow villager, donated a part of his 60 bighas of land abutting Bhoopram's land in order to make the approach road to the school. And, that was the beginning of the primary school of the Shivdaspur village, about 200 kilometres from the state capital Lucknow. The government primary school, Prathmik Vidyalaya, is till class five.
Far reaching effects of philanthropy
"There was a time not that long ago that our village had no primary school of its own," Vikram Sharma, who runs a wheat mill in the village, told Gaon Connection. "But now we have a school of our own and along with it our village has earned a lot of respect too," he added.
Most residents of Shivdaspur village are either farmers like Bhoopram and Tejram were, or they are daily wage labourers. According to the village inhabitants, several proposals were put forward to set up a school in the village, but those never took shape as there was no free land available. That was when the two philanthropic farmers gave a part of their land for the education of the village children.
According to the school records, it was in 1999, children began to gather at the place donated by the two farmers to study. Four years later, in 2003 the foundation of the school building was laid. Today, the children have a cheerful environment with brightly coloured walls, many of them painted with the names of the months, seasons, letters of the alphabets, etc. The students sit on floor mats in the classrooms, chanting after their teacher, who stands in front of a big black board.
Between 1999 and 2021-22, more than 600 students have passed through its portals. This year alone, 110 children are enrolled of which 56 are girls.
"Ever since 2016, when I began teaching here, I have noticed the children had this burning desire to learn. Added to that is the enormous encouragement and support the school has received from the village inhabitants," Mohammad Yakub Siddiqui, assistant teacher at the Shivdaspur school, told Gaon Connection.
According to Siddiqui, even during the pandemic, the children worked hard at home. He said the parents are very aware of the importance of education. "Most importantly, none of us in the village can ever forget that two philanthropic farmers donated land for the cause of education," he added.
The school as an agent of change
Shivkumar, a 40-year-old resident of Shivdaspur, recollected how he along with another 20 or so children from the village would walk several kilometres to another village to attend school. "Thankfully, because of the generosity of some elders, our children study right here. I may have studied outside my village, but I am proud that my children go to school right here," he told Gaon Connection.
Talking about Bhoopram who donated half a bigha of his land, Vikram Sharma, the village resident, said that the farmer was the eldest of four brothers. "He had no children of his own and he had only studied till the fourth grade but understood the importance of education to move ahead in life," said Sharma.
According to Harpal Sharma, son of the other farmer Tejram who donated land to make the approach road, his father had studied till the fifth grade. Harpal remembers the day the foundation stone of the school was laid. "The school revitalised our village," the 50-year-old told Gaon Connection with pride.
The school has improved things in the village, say the Shivdaspur residents. "When I wed and came to the village, there was no school. And leaving our children and picking them up from distant schools was most inconvenient. Now things are different and the children are not inconvenienced either," Ramguni, a 38-year-old, told Gaon Connection.
"Children from our village had to walk at least three or four kilometres to reach their schools in Katra, Siura or Inderpur, before. It was not easy, especially for younger children to traverse the distance. So, the school brought about a welcome change," Jogendra Singh, nephew of Bhoopram, told Gaon Connection.
Even though Bhoopram and Tejram are instrumental in Shivdaspur village getting its own school, villagers regret that there was no mention of the two farmers anywhere in the school premises. But both the farmers live on in the hearts and grateful memories of the village inhabitants, said Vikram Sharma.