“Deduct My Salary if I am Even a Minute Late” A Government Teacher’s Pledge
This story is about one man and his vision to provide better education in government schools.
In the government primary school of Chityal in Adavdevulapally mandal, a flexi banner has been put up which states: “I will forego one day’s salary if I come late to school or leave early even by a minute. This amount should be spent only on the development of the school.” This banner is a public announcement made by the school headmaster Mr. Satish Gadagoju.
Mr. Satish has put up this banner in order to shatter the prejudices that parents have about government schools. He wants to show that government school teachers are no less devoted to their job than those at private schools.
He does not deny that there are a few teachers who give the tribe a bad name. But he urges people to focus on the positive aspects. There are many government school teachers who work sincerely and we need to highlight their work. The negligence and lethargy of the remaining few is largely because of a lack of proper supervision and accountability. Better oversight such as the use of biometric attendance systems can help mitigate the problem to some extent. However, according to him, there has to be a sense of pride in their work and realization of the huge responsibility they bear, among the teachers. They need to ask themselves what they are giving to the school. Only then will things begin to change.
Mr. Satish joined this school as an apprentice in November 2010. The strength of the school then was 21 students. It took him some time to gauge the situation in the village and understand the lives of people there and their cultural backgrounds.
From the very first day he has been trying to improve the strength of the school. His target is that all children from that village join the government school and not the private school. Over the last eight years he has been working towards this goal tirelessly and has rejected three transfers that came his way, because he wanted to try and improve the situation here.
It is surprising to know that the incident that inspired him to start at the grassroots level is the Telangana movement. One day, as he was reading a book by Professor Jayshankar on the Telangana movement, he learned that when it all began, the first meeting for the movement only had 10 people. And now, the same movement had 10 lakh supporters gathered for the cause. This gave him the realization that for great things to happen everyone has to start from zero.
He spoke to the parents and children and went to each home in the village to convince them to send their wards to the government school. He captivated the children with different activities and instilled in them an interest to come to the school. The banner was also part of this larger vision. Slowly the school strength started improving, and today it has 72 children – a great achievement indeed.
Given the fragmentation of enrolment in government schools, Mr. Satish suggests clubbing the schools of various villages where the strength is low into one centre. A good transport facility should be provided for the students to reach this centre. By establishing one large school, the government can not only improve the quality of education but also increase the strength in its schools. Also, there can be a sufficient number of teachers, and they can then focus and specialize in teaching their own subjects.
Mr. Satish is a shining example of a person who despite all odds does not lose hope. He dreams of a time when children enroll in government schools not because their parents do not have any other choice but because of the excellent quality of education in government schools.
When asked if he thought it was he who had brought about this change, he replies “Change was bound to come, now that these children have started studying. I did not bring any change. There could be some impact because of my efforts.”
As he leaves, he tells us “My job is my second mother. It gave me a lot of respect.” with a twinkle in his eye. You cannot help but call him Satish “Sir” after this. He is an inspiration, a role model, an epitome of sincerity and a beacon of hope.