Jaisalmer: A principal ensures that kids who stood by the highway selling kair now study in a school
Mahesh Prajapat, the principal of a government school in a village in Pokhran, Jaisalmer brings back students who stayed away from class and provides them with better infrastructure. He regularly counsels parents to send their wards to school.
Kuldeep Chhangani 26 April 2023 11:52 AM GMT
Pokhran (Jaisalmer), Rajasthan
Mahesh Prajapat travels 34 kilometers every morning from his home at Pokhran in Jaisalmer district in Rajasthan to Jaswantpura village where he is principal at the Government Upper Primary school, since 2020. The school has classes from one to eight and there are eight teachers. While today there are about 130 children who come regularly to school, it was not so when Prajapat first came there.
“The biggest challenge before me was to tackle absenteeism. Very few children, no more than 40, attended the school, though there were 110 children who were enrolled,” the 32-year-old principal, told Gaon Connection. So, after school hours Prajapat began to visit the homes of the enrolled students to find out why this was so.
“From not completing their homework, to not having proper uniform or shoes, the reasons why the children would not come were many. Many of them either worked in the shops in the village or stood by the highway selling kair (a kind of berry grown in the desert landscape),” Prajapat said.
He began to counsel the parents to send their wards to school and told them the importance of doing so. “With the help of the school staff, we also got shoes for all the children,” he said. The efforts paid off and today there are about 130 children who come regularly to school, Prajapat said. Some of them, about 20 or so, are new admissions, he said.
Sometimes it is just fear that keeps some children away, said Prajapat. “A student, Pratap Singh, had not come to school for three months. Initially I thought he was ill. But, when days passed without him showing up I went to his home. He was horrified to see me. I learnt that he had stopped coming to school because some homework that had been given to him days ago was still incomplete, so he had not come! I sat him down and told him he could finish the homework in his own time and no one would say anything to him. Ever since, he has been regular,” Prajapat laughed.
Prajapat said that the school was in need of a lot of help in terms of infrastructure. “Lack of toilets etc., was a great deterrent to students, more so to the girls and the women staff,” he pointed out.
But, he approached some philanthropists and some local representatives of the people, and sought their help. A new main door to the school was fixed, a tin roof was put up where the children had their assembly in the mornings, ensured supply of clean drinking water through water coolers and constructed toilets for girls. The toilets were put up with the help of the Aditya Birla Group.