It takes a village to raise and educate a child
In Tangrain village in Jharkhand, its tribal inhabitants, the local authorities, social workers and teachers all pull together to make the village school a centre of excellence.
Manoj Choudhary 3 Jun 2023 2:11 PM GMT
Tangrain (East Singhbhum) Jharkhand
It takes a village to raise a child, and that is exactly what is happening at Tangrain village. The Utkramit Madhya Vidyalaya is in the remote hilly and forested tribal-dominated area of Potka block in East Singhbhum district in Jharkhand, and as if echoing the surrounding profusion of trees and flowering plants, its walls are also painted in a burst of colours.
The children from the 200 families living in the village, which borders Mayurbhanj district in the neighbouring state of Odisha, have a school they are immensely proud of.
“It is the first government middle school in Jharkhand to have a Scout and Guide unit. Altogether 42 students including 20 girls are members of the Scout and Guide, which was started in 2018,” Arbind Kumar Tiwary, the headmaster in-charge of the school, told Gaon Connection with immense pride.
But things got difficult during the pandemic years and when the school reopened after the lockdown, not many children joined back school. The drop out rate was high, said the headmaster. “This is a tribal area and getting village children back to the school was the real challenge and we adopted a multi-pronged approach and villagers chipped in too,” he added.
The school undertook to paint the classrooms to make them look like train coaches and the students were delighted. Each classroom was provided with a dustbin to encourage cleanliness. And, the outdoors was cultivated into a garden with an open library made of bamboo, straw and earthen pots.
“The walls of the classrooms and corridors of the school are such that children are learning all the time, wherever they turn. They do not even need to open their textbooks,”Amal Kumar Dikshit, one of the school teachers, told Gaon Connection.
He was referring to the motivational slogans, maps, multiplication tables, images of freedom fighters such as Birsa Munda, etc, that were painted on the walls at every corner of the school campus.
“Students who were not much interested in academics were enthused to come to school because of the multiple sports options they were offered at school,” Dikshit said. The school students can play any number of sports including climbing, archery, swimming, indoor games like chess, and so on.
Support from various sectors
“There are many stakeholders to the school who want to be a success and do well,” said Mangal Manjhi, a resident of Tangrain and the president of the school management committee. “Villagers, public representatives and industrialists step up to provide the best academic facilities to students,” he told Gaon Connection.
The former mukhiya of the village, Raja Ram Munda, has provided an assembly stage from his panchayat area development fund, and several inhabitants of Tangrain have donated plots to the school to enable an extension of the campus.
Local resident Ghasi Ram has proposed to donate his plot for the extension of the school's kitchen garden. An outdated old hand-pump has been converted into a water harvesting facility with the help of a non-profit from Jamshedpur. Many social organisations have come forward to provide uniforms, help with the fees and other other development activities at the school.
Meanwhile, a Bengaluru-based non-profit is supervising the construction of three more classrooms and toilets in the school. There are 263 students in the school including 119 girls and there are six teachers in all, who teach classes from kindergarten to class eight, all of them accommodated in five classrooms.
The school has also been awarded the Swachh Vidyalaya award at the district level in 2019 and 2023, said the headmaster.
From private school to govt school
The school has built up such a reputation that several students decided to quit the private schools they were attending to join this village government school.
“I was studying at the Swami Vivekananda Shiksha Ashram in Mayurbhanj district in Odisha when I heard about this school and I decided to study in this village school,” Lokesh Mandal, who is in class eight now, told Gaon Connection. “The active Scouts and Guides camps in the school are something I love. Through the Scouts and Guides, I learn about discipline, leadership qualities and compassion and empathy for others,” said Lokesh.
The school has audio systems in all its classrooms, and has seven computers for students to use. There is also a facebook account set up in order to connect with parents and keep them in the loop of what is happening in the school.
“Special classes were being held to teach the tribal children the languages of Bangla, Bhumij and Santhali, with the help of some village inhabitants, but these were discontinued during the pandemic, but will be revived,” Chandana Mandal, a Bangla teacher, told Gaon Connection.
“The school was set up in 1952, with only two sheds with tin roofs as classrooms. Many children went to the neighbouring village of Khariyasai to study,” recollected Ujjawal Kumar Mandal, an ex-student of the school. “But now they are blessed with quality education at this school in their very own village,” he said with pride. “Those old classrooms are today spruced up, have tribal art on their walls and are being used as school kitchens,” the ex-student added.
“For us in the school, our endeavour is to develop the students holistically. We motivate students to start gardening, do yoga and participate in competitive events in the village. Their overall physical and social development is as important if not more than their academic achievements,” Tiwary, the headmaster, concluded.