Naming the Library after Savitribai Phule in My Village Wasn’t Easy
The library in the village hosts books from renowned authors and poets, as well as those from new writers. That's why during summer vacations, monsoons, or the biting cold of December-January, children come here after school.
Manvendra Singh 15 Jan 2024 10:35 AM GMT
Every day, after returning from school, 12-year-old Muskaan Bano rides her bicycle about one and a half kilometers from her home through fields and rough paths to reach the library. She spends two to three hours reading there.
In this library, Muskaan isn't the only one; children from several nearby villages come daily to read poetry and stories alongside their school books. Muskaan Bano, studying in the seventh grade, says, "I enjoy reading poetry along with my textbooks. Nowadays, I'm reading a book of ghazals called 'Harf-e-Awara."
The library Muskaan visits is the Savitribai Phule Pustakalay in Agresen village of Amethi district, Uttar Pradesh. Its inception was initiated by the principal of Upper Primary School, Narayanpur, Amethi, Mamta Singh. However, when she started it on January 3, 2018, she faced opposition.
It started with the name. Reflecting on the inauguration of her library in the village on January 30, 2018, Mamta Singh recalls how she faced objections after she decided to name it after the great social reformer and India's first female teacher, Savitribai Phule. Despite resistance from villagers and her family, she stood firm.
"There was talk in the village about why name the library after Savitribai. They suggested naming it after my mother or something else. But I'm a bit stubborn. So, without listening to anyone, the library was inaugurated very successfully on January 3, 2018, "shared Mamta Singh, the principal of Upper Primary School, Narayanpur, Amethi.
Mamta Singh always had a keen interest in education from childhood, growing up in a progressive family environment that valued education and studying at home. Her parents were both teachers. Reminiscing about those days, she says, "I always dreamt of having a room filled with books from top to bottom. But I never knew that could also be a library."
You might wonder why a principal of a government school felt the need to open a library in the village, curate books, and manage it, especially one that remains open 24 hours and is entirely free.
She emphasizes the support she received from her brothers, who consistently encouraged her. Mamta Singh pursued private education, completed graduation and post-graduation, and even qualified for competitive exams like the UPSC preliminaries, all due to her brothers' support.
Soon after her marriage, at her brother's insistence, she appeared for the BTC exam, got selected, and in 2002, began her teaching career. However, she never imagined becoming a teacher. Reminiscing about those days, Mamta says, "To be honest, becoming a teacher was not my plan. I got married right after graduation, and my brother filled the BTC form for me because it was considered a good job for girls, compared to making them doctors or engineers, which were costly and time-consuming."
Mamta Singh was well aware of the importance of education and books. That's why her village is different today, with people here having developed a liking for visiting the library and reading good books.
She proudly tells Gaon Connection, "People here stay updated; when they hold a book that's in the news or discussed in newspapers, they feel they're reading something significant."