The semi-English-medium Rajuri Navgan ZP School of in Beed district is an ISO-certified school. It has a large playground, and several spacious digital classrooms. Its kitchen, where the midday meals are cooked, is as well-equipped as that of a city restaurant. The school has a rainwater harvesting project, and its students run their own savings bank. They also look after the birds that frequent the school garden, putting out grain and water for them. The school even boasts a butterfly garden.
This school compels us to modify the stereotyped image we have of government schools. Although this is a primary school, each class has three divisions – and there are a total of 586 students in the school. Along with children from Rajuri Navgan village, many others from nearby villages such as Kakadhira, Nirgudi, Shirpur Dhumal, Vanjarwadi, and Tippatwadi, attend this school.
The school might soon to have a waiting list of students waiting for admission here! This turn of events has come about because, besides offering a strong basic education, the school emphasises the all-round development of its students, ranging from a focus on environmental awareness to sports.
Ratnakar Bahir ‘Sir’, one of the school’s enthusiastic teachers, says, “Until a few years ago, this school was like any other ZP school in the state. But the teachers’ own determination, and the support given to them by the then Speaker of the District Council, Sandeep Kshirsagar, helped transform the school. Kshirsagar ‘saheb’ donated Rs 9,00,000 towards improving the quality of teaching here. Till now, the Village Committee has also raised funds to the tune of Rs 15,00,000 for the school. The students’ guardians and other villagers have donated a further Rs 15,00,000. All these combined efforts and funds have enabled an better quality of education, improved infrastructure, and the implementation of various initiatives for students’ all-round development.”
The Dr Abdul Kalam E-learning Classroom here is up-to-date, the Dr Homi Bhabha Computer Lab gives students a chance to become familiar with computers. There is a wifi connection for its teachers and students, and four CCTV security cameras. In 2017, the school bought ten smart TVs, and each classroom now has its own TV monitor. The school is making every effort to ensure that its students get all the facilities and opportunities offered by today’s technological world. Each class follows a timetable to visit the e-learning classroom. Digital resources are used while teaching school subjects.
The lush green surroundings make it difficult to imagine that the school is in Beed district, one of most drought-prone area in Maharashtra. The school compound has more than 200 trees of various types. Not only are leafy greens and other vegetables grown in its kitchen garden, the school also has a herb garden, as well as its own nursery and seed bank. The students are encouraged to collect a variety of seeds during summer vacations. Then these seeds – mango, lemon, orange, berries or gulmohar – are cultivated in the nursery and then planted in the surrounding area.
To account for such greenery in this arid region of the state, Bahir ‘Sir’ says, “This being a drought-prone region, we have to be very careful with water. We have started harvesting rainwater at the school. Every drop of rainwater is allowed to soak into the earth, and that is why we do not face a water shortage. It is only because of rainwater harvesting that we have been able to maintain these gardens and keep the surroundings green. We want the students to learn how to use water in a systematic and planned manner, and also learn the importance of afforestation through practical experience.” The lush greenery attracts several species of bird and butterfly to the school’s gardens. Bowls filled with grain or water are placed throughout the grounds, giving students a chance to observe the local fauna closely.
The students operate a savings bank named ‘Navgan Students Savings Bank’ within the school. It is operated under the supervision of the teachers. The “bank” issues passbooks and slip books to its customers, enabling students to become familiar with banking transactions.
The Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Library has an excellent and sizable collection of books. Bahir ‘Sir’ elaborates, “We have stopped the practice of distributing chocolates in school to celebrate birthdays. Instead, we encourage the students to donate books to the library. Often, the teachers, or visiting officials and guests, add to the collection. We try our best to inculcate the habit of reading among our students.”
The school has novel initiatives, like a “curiosity box” and an “honesty box”. The first is used by students to drop in any question that seeks information she may need; the other is used to drop in any lost items found in the school premises. It is not necessary to reveal one’s identity while seeking information or returning lost items. The teachers try to answer the queries in the curiosity box, seeking the help of other experts if they need to, while the objects found in the honesty box are returned to the rightful owners after carefully establishing who they might be. The first initiative encourages students to be curious and ask questions, whereas the second aims to instill honesty.
This is a semi-English-medium school, and lessons are taught using constructivist methods. Often, teachers teach two subjects simultaneously. For instance, the letters from A to Z are given values from 1 to 26 respectively. While teaching the alphabet, as the students spell meaningful words, a teacher might ask them to perform mathematical operations like addition or subtraction with the given numerical values. Thus, if a student creates the word “BAT”, she could be asked to substitute the appropriate numbers in place of the letters and add those up. So after making “BAT”, she would add up 2+1+20.
Apart from these initiatives, students learn to ride the bicycle, and there is a water purifier for drinking water. The school has a beautiful hand-wash station to encourage students to wash their hands before and after meals. There are large and clean toilets for students and teachers. Every Monday is Hygiene Day, when the clothes, teeth, and nails of each student are inspected.
Rajuri Navgan ZP School’s students tend to be good at sports and other extra-curricular activities. People from other parts of the region also attend the annual gathering of this school. There is a proper stage, and the school authorities find it necessary to arrange large screens to ensure that everyone in the crowd can see the performances. During the gathering, the students and the school also win prizes from the audience for their performances. This money too is sometimes used to further improve the school infrastructure.
In recognition of its quality of teaching and its effective administration, the school received ISO certification in 2015. It even has its own website: http://zpschoolrajuri.com/
For more information please contact Ratnakar Bahir Sir of Rajuri Navgan on: 9421326020
Blog: Snehal Bansode-Sheludkar For Comet Media Foundation
Translation & editing: samata.shiksha team for Comet Media Foundation