Report by Badal Tah; Rayagada: Project Upper Primary school at a non-descript tribal village named Birnarayanpur under Kottapeta Gram Panchayat did not have the hustle bustle of 70th Republic Day being celebrated at GCD High School ground in the district headquarters of Rayagada and usual boastings of controversial government programmes like PEETHA, KALIA, Ama Gaon Ama Bikash, etc by the Minister. There was neither any big officer present nor mobillisation of contribution(Chanda) nor any conspicuous invitation distributed nor any parade; but the school, which has 117 students, mostly tribals, including three differently abled, celebrated the day with the villagers and the scribes of Zilla Sambadika Sangha.
After the unfurling of the tricolor flag by the School Management Committee(SMC) president Sri Rama Rao Kandagari, a tribal youth leader from the same village, the scribes, teachers, Sri Sashibhusan Hota, Sri Madhaba Rao Saraka spoke to the assembled students, teachers and villagers. The most significant and eloquent speeches were made by the tribal students themselves in English, Hindi, Odia and Kui. “One has to note that that these tiny tribal students study in a government school run by the education department. This is an Odia medium school symbolizing multilingualism in true spirit. While, in common parlance, the minimum quality standards government rural schools are in a degenerating mode, this school is an eye opener. The collaborative effort of parent, teachers, community at large and the students has put synergy and promoted a cultural synthesis”, said Sri Bijaya Mishra, a senior scribe and President of Zilla Sambadika Sangha, Rayagada.
In a disciplined way the students paraded around the village raising patriotic slogans and in the middle of the village showcased several forms dances with background nationalist songs. Though they were not gorgeously dressed, their own school dress, white lungis of their fathers and old torn sarees of their lady teachers made perfect attire symbolizing patriots. Not a single student was spared in the cultural function and the whole village was enjoying in the midst of the village. Absence of a school play ground was not at a deterrent for this event, rather a boon. “While everybody is concerned of mainstreaming the tribals, this process of celebrating the national day with the tribal community has kept the sprit of the day alive in the village. The tribals love to dance, sing and exhibit a commune feeling. Taking this national event to a village has really strengthened the values of tribals and sensitized the unprivileged the meaning of freedom. One will certainly get amazed to feel the confidence of the students. This is real empowerment of the villagers and the children, who are the future citizens”, said Sri Ajaya Kumar Rath, Coordinator of Rayagada Nagarika Mancha. During this auspicious occasion Zilla Sambadika Sangh donated books to school’s open library.
Kumari Rubina Kandagari, Class-VI, a short heighted tribal girl studying in this school, is multi talented like many here. She leads the dance group and recipient of merit scholarship for last two years. She has become the winner in debate competition in the whole district. As a child reporter she comes out with a boom to have an interview with a few scribes. Lo & behold the level of confidence. Like this one can find several multi talented tots in this school. “Beti Bacha, Beti Padhao” is a stark reality in this village because of the sincere efforts of teaching staff. All this could be possible because of a team of committed teachers of the school namely Sri Jagadish Chandra Dora, Smt Sandhya Rani Patra, Sri Manoranjan Mishra & Headmaster Sri Surya Narayan Bisoyi. That’s why not only the attendance rate is 92% but also the aesthetic sense of the students & activity based initiatives. Even the waste materials are judiciously used. The plastic bottles used to raise seedlings, sand filled broken steel pots as fire extinguishers, old badges & caps reused for last seven to eight years, etc are a few examples to be cited. Keeping numbered shoes and slippers, hanging the books in the open library, arrangement of scientific instruments and models and artifacts symmetrically by the students themselves proves their aesthetic sense. Adding to this, the neat maintenance of the lavatories and judicious use of water and the total surroundings are to be seen to be believed. “Given an opportunity, the tribal students can really excel. It is not material resource & finance, but a right attitude and environment. We, as teachers, have tried our best to instill confidence and inculcate pro-people values through several extra-curricular activities like debate, one-act plays, drawings, models out of clay and other locally available materials, leadership exercises, yoga and sports. Twelve students from the Panchat headquarters Kattapeta read in this school by commuting around five kilometers everyday”, said Sri Dora while taking the scribes alongwith him to traverse the whole school.
“All this with a meager annual grant of twenty two thousand rupees. But the teachers have proved that if there is a will there is a way. Though there is a disparity of grant for the development of the school between the Welfare Deptt Schools & Education Deptt Schools, it is the right attitude of the teacher which matters. One needs to applaud their sensitivity in involving even the Dibyang students in each activity of the school. The concerned govt authorities must take a cue from the school about management with least resources and replicate the model elsewhere in the state”, said Sri Rabindra Patakhandal, a local press reporter and Convenor, Suchana Adhikar Mancha.