Madhya Pradesh: A School Is Reborn For The Kids of Mohanpura Dam-Affected Families
A government school teacher, Gopal Bhalwala, spent his savings to give the drab walls of a middle school in Rajgarh district a new life with bright murals to encourage children to come to study.
Abdul Wasim Ansari 25 Sep 2023 7:08 AM GMT
Rajgarh, Madhya Pradesh
The Integrated Middle School in Mohanpura Colony is a riot of colours. The walls are painted brightly and there are murals of suns, stars, trees, flowers and happy children.
Every wall also carries on its slogans and quotes guaranteed to inspire and motivate the children. “You can change the world” is the overriding theme of the school, it seems. But it was not always like that.
“When the school started in 2016-17, it looked nothing like this. It was just four walls of the classroom and not many children came to study there,” said Sapna Kunwar, whose daughter studies at the school located in Rajgarh district of Madhya Pradesh, about 150 kilometres from the state capital Bhopal.
Gopal Bhalwala, the teacher-in-charge, took it upon himself to revamp the government school and persuade the parents to send their wards there. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he painted the entire school all by himself and also created colourful drawings on the classroom walls.
“There were only 23 children who came to the school. Most parents preferred to send their children to private schools, as this school had nothing in it to really attract the children to come there,” Bhalwala told Gaon Connection.
It was important for him to revamp the school as it was constructed to impart education to children of families displaced due to the construction of Mohanpura dam on Nevaj River in the district to meet drinking water and irrigation needs.
Sapna Kunwar, whose daughter studies at the school, is one of the many inhabitants who had to move as the villages they lived in and schools where their kids studies were submerged when the Mohanpura dam was commissioned and then later inaugurated on June 23, 2018 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Many villages were relocated. Of them, five villages — Nalkheda, Karadia, Manjari Kho, Chauki, and Dungarpur — were resettled in Mohanpura Colony that lies about three kms from the Rajgarh district headquarters. About 4,000 people live here. These villagers were given new homes and compensation along with a school building of Integrated Middle School in Mohanpura Colony.
The school, with classes till the eighth, was but four walls and a few windows and doors, and the parents were less than enthusiastic about sending their wards there.
Bhalwala took it upon himself to revamp the school and persuade the parents to send their wards there. He was already a teacher at Karadia village, one of the five villages that were relocated to Mohanpura Colony.
There was no separate grant or resources allocated to improve the building so Bhalwala decided to take things in his own hands. He slowly began to paint the walls and clean up the premises, and plant gardens. Then the pandemic happened and the school closed down. “I took that opportunity to make the learning space colourful and attractive,” said Bhalwala.
He cleaned it up and with bright paints created images and wrote inspirational messages on the walls, and even the ceilings. The result was a happy, bright, vibrant space.
Bhalwala also visited parents in Mohanpura Colony to ask them to consider the government school for their children. His dedication and commitment worked and today, from just 23 children, the school has 114 children.
“I enjoy art and the lockdown provided me with the opportunity to work there without interruption as the school was shut then,” said 42-year-old Bhalwala.
Between 2017 and 2019, he received no extra money or grant to do up the school, yet he left no wall, window or ceiling unpainted. According to him, he spent almost Rs 3 lakh (Rs 300,000) out of his teacher’s salary to do up the school.
The large, airy and colourful building looks nothing like what one would imagine a government school would look like. There are classes till the eighth and five teachers in all.
“There are three factors that make this school shine. They are the enthusiasm of the children to learn, the support and encouragement of the community and the hard work and dedication of the teachers,” Suresh Kumar Saxena, one of the teachers, told Gaon Connection.
“The parents are very supportive of us. And the environment is perfect for teaching and learning,” Nitu Viswakarma, told Gaon Connection.
Students Anmol and Manisha Valmiki, love the school. “I am swiftly becoming fluent in English,” said Anmol. For Manisha “It is the beautiful art on the walls and the cheerfulness of the teachers besides proper benches and desks that I love,” she told Gaon Connection.
Jeevan Tanwar, a resident of Mohanpura Colony, has watched the school transform from a boring, uninspiring construction to a vibrant space. And, he was all praises for the teachers and staff of the school. “It has every facility that a private school offers. And it is a place where children who would otherwise have been left out of the education space, can learn and make a life for themselves,” he said.