A teacher transforms the village school that was once on the verge of closing

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When Dattatray Ware, a nationally award-winning teacher, transferred to Jalindernagar Public School, there were only 13 pupils on his rolls. Months later, the number rose to over 80, thanks to the transformation he carried out at this “ZP school” located in a remote area of ​​the Pune district. It now has a well-equipped lab, library, laptops and even virtual reality (VR) glasses among other teaching aids.

Ware, a teacher from Zilla Parishad (ZP), rose to fame after taking charge of a school in Wablewadi in the Shirur tehsil of Pune district in 2012. He had the infrastructure upgraded and introduced new teaching methods. The school has even started offering courses in robotics and foreign languages.

In 2016, Ware won a national award for exemplary teacher, but five years later faced allegations of financial crimes and position abuse and was suspended. The suspension was revoked in February this year, but he was transferred to Jalindernagar, a hamlet in Khed tehsil. The primary school there was in poor condition. There were only 13 children and one teacher, he said.

The school didn’t even have a proper access road. “I was shocked and discouraged by the way I was suspended. But when I joined this school, I decided to change things,” he said.

Ware consulted with manager Sandip Mhasudge about his plans. Until Ware arrived, Mhasudge was the only teacher. “We then spoke to the inhabitants and asked for their participation in the redesign of the school. They knew about our work at Wablewadi School, so they showed enthusiasm. We then decided to work on improving the school with infrastructure changes and at the same time we started working to bring about a qualitative change in the students,” Ware said.

The leaking roof was replaced with nice polythene sheets. The drab Shahabadi tiles on the floor were replaced with marble tiles and the construction of a compound wall was also started with the help of government funds. They set a goal to complete the physical overhaul in 100 days and took advantage of the summer break. “During this period, the parents of the 13 students were persuaded to send them to school daily. We worked on their academic preparation, started using laptops, introduced virtual reality glasses and Scratch software to teach them animation,” he said.

They also introduced basic French and Japanese lessons to instill interest in foreign languages ​​in students. Soon word spread about the Jalindernagar ZP school. “We opened the school for the new school year in June, with over 150 students seeking admission,” Ware said.

They had to reject the applications of half of them because the schools where they were already enrolled would have been closed due to the exodus, he said. “I had been discouraged after the episode that led to my suspension in 2021. People in the area started saying ‘If you did well, you will meet the fate of Ware’s Guruji,'” he said. declared. Primary school teachers are traditionally called “Guruji” in Maharashtra.

But the bloc’s education officer, Jeevan Kokane, encouraged him on his new innings at Jalindernagar, Ware said. Mhasudge, his colleague, said the school was set to close in 2018 due to lack of students. “When I arrived here, there were only three students. I increased the number to 13 by calling on brick kiln workers to send their children to school,” he said.

“We were happy when Ware Guruji was transferred here. The school benefits enormously from his experience,” he said. Kokane also praised the efforts of Ware and Mhasugde.

“I visited the school and saw the change. The number of registrations, which was 13 in January, has now increased to around 100. Ware Guruji, with the help of some NGOs and social organizations, has brought things like virtual reality glasses, laptops and televisions and tried to change the face of the school. We have now sent a proposal to start Class 5 there,” he said.

Amit Gawade, a member of the school’s coordinating committee, said people’s attitude towards the ZP school has changed. “Now people are ready to help to develop the school further. Students have improved… During the Independence Day program, students gave impromptu speeches without any help,” he said. – he added Bhanudas Zodage, a villager whose daughter is studying in class 1, said that the students now want to go to school even during holidays.

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