This is the story of Prakash Pandey, whose immense strength and belief of sharing learning and education with others led him to create an independent movement in rural India’s education sector.
We have to start this story as a thought-provoking matter of concern where we will be talking about the condition of the Indian Education System in the 20th Century. This thought came to our mind when we spoke to this person, who is tirelessly working towards Rural Education.
Till today the school education exists at a pre-dated level, continuing to be an uncommon the reality in most parts of India: go to any village or Taluk in the far-interiors of rural countryside, and the scene is pretty much the same everywhere: an old, a dilapidated building, where children continually jostle for space and attention, classrooms with low or no-lighting, sporadic availability of blackboard and chalk for conducting lessons, and finally the most de-motivating factor of it all: the perpetual low supply of good teachers who can cater to the overall development of the child, throughout any given academic year.
Given such a condition, those who receive education in the villages and are able to fully realize their academic journey are the ones who are considered lucky. We are fortunate to have some people who recognize the value of education that goes into shaping little lives by sharing the light of knowledge.
We bring to you the journey of one such person who not only reached the incredible milestone of completing his education level but is also determined to touch the lives of his village children who seemingly have little or no access to good and quality education…
The Belief in Education
The handsome, young boy is Prakash Pandey: born and brought up in Chorauwan in Bihar. Chorauwan is a small but captivating village in the interiors of Bihar which in current times is one of India’s rapidly developing states, soon transforming into a promising cultural hub in its own right.
As a young child of his village, Prakash like many others saw the dream of studying and becoming something in the field of his chosen work. Prakash completed studies in his village itself and went on to pursue higher studies even further. Soon he was invited to Delhi
Living his Dreams
While he was in Delhi, Prakash’s hard work was rewarded by the good quality of education that he had earned. Prakash’s dreams were fulfilled by the quality of education he received while he was away from home. The availability of various basic amenities and facilities, the easy access to the best of library services, altogether made Prakash’s education a beautiful experience that left an indelible mark on his mind.
After completion of his successful education in Delhi, Prakash Pandey joined the Indian Air Force and completed his ground training and became one of the leading officers. Prakash was earning well and by now he had become an independent young man.
However, Prakash had an unrealized dream. Often, he would think about the backward quality of education that was still prevailing in his village, and this particularly saddened him.
Prakash Pandey returns to his home
One day, when he visited his village, he was sad to see the backward condition of his village. Nothing had changed in the system of education in these many years. Children even today had no access to proper amenities and facilities, not to mention the lack of a decent library. Prakash Pandey was truly taken aback. This was the day when he decided to take a U-turn from Delhi and stay back in his village for good.
Converting Dreams into Reality
Perched atop the panoramic village view sits a beautiful rustic home that has now been converted into a spacious and vibrant school. This is Prakash’s house that has now been converted into a school.
The first privately-run school in Chorauwan village was started by Prakash in his own house. Set up in the year 2017, the school was ready with fully functional classrooms with blackboard, benches, and tables as well as running with a consistent supply of electricity throughout the day.
One can make out of the happiness on the children’s faces that a school with good facilities was indeed a dream come true for them. This school is called Paathshala – which literally translates to a temple of education.
Dreaming, Toiling, and Executing
It takes blood, toil and even sleepless nights to prepare oneself on a journey that will ultimately bring them happiness and a sense of fulfillment.
Prakash Pandey’s school was built out of his sheer hard-work and motivation, not to mention he has spent his personal savings to make a privately run school that hosts decent amenities: a reality for the children in his village.
As we spoke to Prakash about this, he said “soon as I decided to set up the school, I spoke to a few youngsters in my village who were motivated to help me. Together with my friend, we achieved the first target of reaching out to these youngsters and trained them in various modules relating to numeracy, language, and even computer literacy.”
“Though the overall literacy level was comparatively moderate, the girl children in our village were more educated than the rest”. – says Prakash Pandey.
The next target to achieve was: providing a class apart of amenities and facilities to the students by giving them access to classrooms, learning aids as well as a fully functional setup of a few computer rooms. We wanted to make sure that every child in our village is exposed to the world of computers right from the early schooling age and we initiated with the basic usage of computers.
Training the staff
Prakash wanted to set up a model of education which was very different from the rest. Therefore he decided to motivate the students who completed their schooling with them by providing them free access to training.
On successful completion of the module, they can join the school as teaching staff. To keep the motivation level high, Prakash and his team also paid the teachers and other staff like in a regular school. Currently, the school caters to 400 students with classes up to the VIII standard.
This girl speaks:
Ranjita is a class IV student, who is a bright and effervescent child. She loves subjects like – Maths, Language and Computer literacy that are made deeply interesting by her teacher who is skilled and knowledgeable in her subjects …I love going to school”, quips a happy Ranjita… Like Ranjita, there are many other children who happily attend school, thus motivating the elders in our village to send their own children to our school – gushes an animated Prakash.
Bridging the gap
School education in India is at a stage where there is a despicable gap between the systems that exist in rural India in comparison to urban India.
This story is about one such change-maker who with his grit, determination and passion for knowledge wanted to share the same with the people of his own village. It is in the current times that we need more Prakash Pandey’s who loves to giving back to society have the passion to make the dream of quality education a true reality for all: irrespective of all the odds. Here’s on behalf of everyone from team Storyofsouls.com we give a big salute to you, Sir. You truly are transforming lives through Teaching.
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