When the teacher comes calling in a village in Varanasi

A teacher of a government primary school in Varanasi district, doesn’t think twice before visiting the houses of students who are frequently absent. His strategy has paid off as absenteeism has dropped, enrollments have gone up and with that the infrastructure of the school has improved.

Pavan Kumar MauryaPavan Kumar Maurya   9 Feb 2023 1:27 PM GMT

When the teacher comes calling in a village in Varanasi

A teacher in rural Varanasi tried his pre-tested model of visiting the houses of students to keep a track of their absenteeism. All photos by Pavan Kumar Maurya.

Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh

When the students and his colleagues break for lunch, Omprakash Singh sits with the attendance register to call up parents of those students who have skipped classes for more than two days.

Sometimes, he visits the homes of the absent students to find out what happened, and talks to the parents about the importance of their wards not missing school.

“Many of the students studying here belong to underprivileged families where their parents are daily wage labourers. I ask the parents if they want their children to live the same difficult lives as they are,” Omprakash told Gaon Connection. This one question is usually enough for them to ensure their child comes to school regularly, he added.

The 44-year-old teacher works at the Kharawan Primary English School in Varanasi district, Uttar Pradesh. It is his untiring effort to engage with the parents of the children that has resulted in a steep rise in enrollment in the school. From 200 students in 2020, the number of students in the school is now 428.

“ I had not been to school for two days because of a pain in my leg. Omprakash sir came home to find out why I had not been at school. I am used to his visits,” Mukesh Kumar, a 14-year-old student of class four told Gaon Connection.

Om Prakash Singh, a 44-year-old teacher is putting untiring effort to engage with the parents of the children to increase their enrollment in Kharawan Primary English School.

Mukesh admitted that earlier he was not too interested in attending classes and played truant often. “But Sir’s frequent visits home and his conversations with my parents changed that,” he said.

Communicating with the parents

“He is well versed with the psychology of the kids and has used that to develop a rapport with them,” Dinesh Yadav, the principal of Kharawan Primary English School, told Gaon Connection.

“His communication skills are exemplary. The way he interacts with the parents is admirable and I salute his spirit. The efforts he puts in to convince the parents of his students about the importance of education is extraordinary,” the principal added.

The teacher's efforts have resulted in increased head count of students in the school and less absenteeism.

The teacher’s efforts have brought about a sea change in which government schools are viewed.

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“Master sahab has transformed the school. He has ensured that the quality of education imparted here is comparable to any English convent schools,” Gulab, a 55-year-old resident of Kharawan village, told Gaon Connection. He added that Omprakash had dispelled the popular image of government school teachers of how they just do the bare minimum and are indifferent to the students.

“Government schools are usually not sought after. Those who can afford to, send their children to private schools. But that has changed and parents are queuing up to have their children admitted here,” he pointed out.

Positive changes

With the number of admissions going up, there has been an effort to shore up the infrastructure and facilities in the school that now boasts of a modern library, a projector room, and a badminton court.

“Every day, as many as 380 out of 428 students attend their classes. Clean washrooms, a hygienic kitchen, etc., make the school attractive for the students and they enjoy the learning experience,” principal Yadav added.

Memories of Sonbhadra

It was his experience as a teacher at Sonbhadra that convinced Omprakash Singh that visiting the homes of the students and involving their parents is what would make the difference.

With the number of admissions going up, there has been an effort to shore up the infrastructure and facilities in the school.

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“I had a student in class at the government school at Sonbhadra who frequently missed classes. But, I saw this child had a spark that could be nurtured,” Omprakash recalled. “I decided to visit him at home. While he was shocked and ran away when he saw me, I did speak to his parents for over an hour. The following day he showed up in class and was regular ever since,” Omprakash laughed.

“I realised that this would work with other students too. And now, this is my strategy to get the kids back into school,” he smiled.

UttarPradesh Education News Rural 

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