Classrooms that look like train coaches, a giant “snakes and ladders” game board painted on the floor and some innovative teaching methods have drawn students to a school in a remote village in Jharkhand’s East Singhbhum district.
Journalist-turned-teacher Arvind Tiwari’s efforts have paid off, the dropout rate in the upgraded middle school in Tanggrain village of Potka block is now zero.
“Thirty-five new students enrolled since school reopened” COVID-19 Ban on September 24,” said Tiwari, the acting principal of the school.
He implemented innovative ideas to enroll children and motivate them to study seriously since taking admission in a government school about 45 kms from Jamshedpur in 2017.
During the lockdown, he gave three rooms of five rooms. One storey school building in the shape of railway coaches. When viewed from a distance, the school building looks like a passenger train.
Appreciating the efforts of painter Rishab Malhar, Tiwari said that this change has attracted the students and they do not leave any chance to photograph before the building.
Tiwari said he had spent money from his own pocket to make the changes.
The school in Tanganran, located near the Jharkhand-Odisha border, has attracted students from neighboring Jonodih, Khidirasai and Siling villages ever since the institute reopened.
Tiwari said that with the new enrollment, the total number of students from classes 1 to 8 has gone up to 269.
Acknowledging that school dropout rates are high in rural areas, 50-year-old Tiwari said that most tribal children cannot express their problems to those coming from outside.
To break this prohibition, Tiwari, a resident of Jamshedpur city, said that he tried to contact them through sports and games.
“I painted a large Snakes and Ladders board on a concrete platform on the school campus, and it was an instant hit with the students,” he said.
He started playing the game and sometimes Tiwary himself took part in it which helped in breaking the ice.
Tiwari’s other efforts also made the school one of the most sought after in the vicinity with regard to enrollment of children.
He used to roam the villages carrying textbooks.
Storybooks, pens, pencils and crayons during the lockdown period to inculcate the habit of reading in the children and solve the problems of subjects like maths at their doorstep.
Since most of the students come from poor families and unable to buy smartphones for online studies, this helped them to continue with their studies.
On an earlier occasion, Tiwari challenged the students to memorize the tables within a time limit and promised to take them to a film if successful.
The students who did so were taken to the screening of the Hindi film “Bahubali” in Jamshedpur.
He had taken several students of the school as well as their parents on the train for a joy ride between Tatanagar and Badampahar. For many it was the first experience of rail travel.
Appreciating Tiwari’s efforts, the villagers have donated about 12 bags of land for the development of the school. The officials have already built a boundary wall on the land.
Apart from this, students are also taught horticulture, mushroom production, swimming competition and archery training.
Tiwari has been awarded district level award for his contribution in the field of education this year.