Berhampur, September 7 (LocalWire): The upper primary school in a tribal-dominated Koraput district lacked infrastructure facilities and teaching staff.
It had a very low enrollment of students who were irregular in their attendance, as parents preferred their wards support them at work than go to the school.
This was the scene at the Project Upper Primary School, Khotiguda in Borigumma block, some seven years ago.
Not anymore. The strength of the school from Class I to VIII has now increased from 25 to 71, while the number of teaching staffs has gone up from one to three, and the school dropout rate has gone down to almost zero.
Today, the students at this school in this tribal village are always eager to join classes since they are taught in a playful environment.
The change agent and man who made this possible is the school headmaster Pabitra Mohan Dash, who made a sea change in this government-run school through a series of changes since 2012.
Dash was started with a door-to-door campaign against dropout.
He visited each of the 80-households in the Khotoguda village to motivate parents to send their children to the school.
He also held meetings with the parents in the nearby villages.
“It took me around six months to motivate them. But once the students started to come, they were eager to attend the school again,” he said.
Over the years, Dash has developed around 200 learning aids from waste materials to enable students to learn fast and in a joyful manner. Corporal punishment was almost nil, and soon he built a museum to display school science projects.
Dash, is the only teacher from Odisha among the 45 teachers across the country who have been conferred the President Award on the occasion on 5 September this year, on the Teachers’ Day.
“I am happy to get the award. It is a recognition of the hard work,” the 43-year-old Dash said, adding that the award would inspire him to further work in the education sector, especially in the tribal belt.