A Teacher is Empowering Girls Through the Bitiya Ki Bagiya Initiative
Abhishek Kumar Shukla allocates patches of land in his primary school in Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh, where girl students grow vegetables which are then used in the mid-day meals.
Danish Iqbal 26 Sep 2023 8:32 AM GMT
Three months ago, Abhishek Kumar Shukla launched the ‘Bitiya Ki Bagiya’ [A Garden for Girls] initiative at Primary Vidyalaya Shahjahanpur, where he teaches. The government school is located in Maholi block of Sitapur district in Uttar Pradesh.
The main aim of this initiative is to help girls take lead in farming, and break the gender stereotype where men are viewed as farmers and not women.
“As part of this project, we allocate plots of land within the school premises to girl students where they can grow various vegetables. Each plot is managed by a group of girls, and teachers and the school cook are also part of each group,” Abhishek Kumar told Gaon Connection.
There are about 10 plots in total, with each plot being headed by a girl. “For example, the head of the first plot is a girl from Class 1, and each plot has four to five children along with teachers for support,” said the teacher. “When I first came to this school, there were only two trees on the premises. Today, every plot has fruit-bearing, fragrant, and shady trees, which the students themselves take care of,” he added with pride.
Abhishek Kumar also informed that the primary school has a kitchen garden, which is a requirement as per the orders of the Uttar Pradesh Education Department. The vegetables grown in the kitchen garden are used for preparing mid-day meals.
“We grow seasonal vegetables, and currently, it's the season for bottle gourds. In the upcoming winter season, we will grow radishes, carrots, and beets,” he said. “We have banana trees, as well as amla and jamun trees, all of which are flower and fruit,” he added. At present, approximately 40 children are part of this initiative.
According to the teacher, villagers are also involved in this initiative of growing food in the school. “This initiative has boosted the confidence of the girls and made them believe that they are capable of any task. Building self-confidence is the responsibility of a teacher,” he said.
Aashiqui Verma, studies in class 4 of the school, and is proud of the Bitiya Ki Bagiya in her school. “I regularly tell villagers about our garden and what all we grow. We have planted trees, and we really enjoy taking care of them. Our teacher also helps us a lot. Apart from learning academics, we also get nutritious food from school, which we relish,” she said.
Primary Vidyalaya Shahjahanpur has been winning accolades for a while now. The school has been known as the School of Innovation in the entire state since 2022. Life skills are taught in school, which prepare children for the future. For his innovative teaching methods, Abhishek Kumar was honored by Vijay Kiran Anand, director general school education, Uttar Pradesh, on February 4 this year.