Teacher’s Diary: “I stitched together cement bags to use as durries in the classroom”
Neetu Singh recalls her difficult 20-year-old journey as a teacher since she came to Bharthua village in Aligarh, UP, as a young bride. From teaching 115 children single handedly to stitching together cement bags to use as durries in the classroom, she is struggling to keep alive a legacy of her father-in-law who set up Jaybal Vidyalaya in 1995 in Bharthua village that had no school before that.
Neetu Singh 11 April 2023 1:31 PM GMT
My father-in-law Surendra Pal Singh set up Jaybal Vidyalaya in 1995, because there were no schools in Bharthua village for its children. His five daughters who were all educated could now teach at the school and this would be hugely beneficial to the children of the village.
When the school began the children were charged no more than Rs 30 a month. Now they pay Rs 100 a month. They come from economically struggling families, but the school charges a minimal fee so that they do not feel they are charity cases. At present there are 115 children in this school, from classes one to five, and I am the only teacher.
My sisters-in-law got married one by one by 2005, and there was not enough money in the family to recruit teachers for the school. Around 2002, I began to teach at the school and continue to do so till date.
I was born in Bandi village in Mathura and my primary education was there. My father was in a transferable job so we moved often, so I also studied in Agra. My mother died when I was very young and my grandparents brought me up.
I completed my 10th class in Balbhadra Inter College while I completed my 12th standard in 1994 from Rajkiya Kanya Inter-College in Moradabad. I got married in 1996 and came to Bharthua in Aligarh, and here I am.
We struggle to run the school set up by my father-in-law. The children do not have a proper place to sit. I stitch together old cement bags and spread them on the floor for them to seat themselves. I have converted my old saris into curtains to protect them from the heat, dust and rains. But, I will do anything it takes to keep the school going.
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My father-in-law, when he started the school, was not well off either. He had five daughters to marry off. But he had determination and courage of conviction. That is why I will not give up.
Despite the struggle, it feels good when our students do well. One of my former students joined the Uttar Pradesh police. A couple of others are in banks. The success of these students gives me the energy to go on.
As told to Danish Iqbal, an intern with Gaon Connection.
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