Remembering Sanjay Prasad Singh: A Teacher Who Taught Grammar like Maths
Mr Sanjay Singh was a major figure in popularizing and making English education accessible to the schools in rural areas of Munger, Bhagalpur and Banka.
The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall- Nelson Mandela
The wrinkles, the lines on the forehead and the years of experience can alone narrate his wonderful story. But, the lives of extraordinary people need a lot more than that. This is the story of Late Mr Sanjay Prasad Singh, a government school teacher who served for 36 years as a Sarkari School teacher with dedication and commitment that needs your attention. He passed away due to Covid-19 this month.
Do watch our interaction with Sanjay Sir here
Mr Sanjay Singh was a major figure in popularizing and making English education accessible to the schools in rural areas of Munger, Bhagalpur and Banka. Completing his Masters in Economics in ’65 and B.Ed. in ’66; he joined Anti High School in 1968 in Gaya, Bihar, where he started his career in teaching. He was the only English teacher in around 50 villages in Anti High School.
He changed the way English was taught and the students who benefited from his unique teaching methods will be forever grateful and will keep him alive in their hearts.
Reflections on the Past
“My favourite teacher was Krishna Dev, who hailed from Deoghar and taught me during my graduation. His jovial personality and style of teaching and his cordial nature really inspired me.” Talking in his usual tone that comes with years of guiding and disciplining students, Sanjay Sir recalled how he had joined Anti High School in 1968 during my conversation with him last year.
The school was then run through committees- for his school, there was an 11-member committee, all constituted of locals. The committee was well-equipped to deal with the tasks related to running of the school, including the extracurriculars and Parent-Teacher Meetings were also conducted as per schedule.
“Around 75% of the students in the school secured 1st division.” A fact Sanjay Sir remembers with pride. The then Chief Minister of Bihar Karpoori Thakur’s decision to make English a non-compulsory subject also incentivizes students to not put equal emphasis on the subject. But, he took extra time for the students who were still interested and helped them.
But everything changed when from October 2, 1980 the committee-managed school was turned into a state-managed government school.
“This was a devastating change which affected the performance of the school in the long run. With time, the focus of the students shifted and there was found a general erosion of the teaching environment”.
Logic of Language
Sanjay Sir really changed a lot for his kids in the various areas he was posted in and his ingenious approach towards English education made him one of the favourite teacher among the students.
“I taught Grammar like Mathematics. Taking a completely logical approach towards language gave my students confidence in the subject. My method was really beneficial for them.”
A man of few words, a personality revered by his students and his children both, a doting father Sanjay Sir was an inspiration for his children and students.
The Naxal Uprising
“Where there are mountains without trees
Where there are rivers without water
And there are men without brain”
The indifferent approach of the state, coupled with the oncoming turbulent social landscape led to the rise of a dismal educational structure. Naxalism and its spread through the last few decades of the 20th century also impacted society. Sanjay Sir in his conversation with SarkariSchool.in’s remembered an incident that really shook him. It also elucidates a vivid picture of the environment which the teachers who taught in the hinterland had to face every day.
“The year was 1980. It was a usual day at the school and the Naxal movement had just started. For safety, we used to close the gates of the school compound around 10 am. Around 11, a large group of Naxalites which also included my ex-students suddenly entered the school by breaking the gate. They, then gathered both the students and the teachers and marched onto Chandeni, a village 30 km from there, shouting violent and threatening slogans along the way, terrorizing other parents and villagers, anybody whom they encountered.”
He then applied for a transfer from Gaya, shocked by the incident, knowing that the conditions were too severe to not make a decision. After him, 9 more teachers also applied.
“When fear of life dominates the mind, education is a far-fetched dream.”
The Naxalite problem really was detrimental to the psyche of the oncoming generations of students and parents both. Sanjay Sir was subsequently posted in Munger District. When in 2004, he returned to Anti, to procure some papers he found there was a Police Station in the village but saddened to find that the fear and the social unrest that forced him to leave was still very much a part of the society there.
“Back then I contemplated for a long time whether to leave or not, it was disheartening to realise that I made the right choice.”
A strong proponent of bilingual approach, he felt that an equal emphasis should be given to English and Hindi both which is required in today’s world for a student to excel.
Till his last breath, he still had his ear to the ground and was very concerned about the plight of an average government school teacher who currently is in a state of anguish and felt betrayed by the system due to the low salaries, lack of systemic support and a general lack of recognition. He was apprehensive about the commercialisation of education and private school’s preference of show over substance, all of which he concluded was relegating education to the backseat.
A Life Truly Lived
“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s life in your years.” -Abraham Lincoln
Mr. Sanjay Prasad Singh, or Sanjay Sir as he was known to his students, was a well-renowned figure in the community. He earned a great respect among his students who still could be found bowing and touching his feet. Even after 16 years of retirement he was aware of so many small details of his teaching career, which shows his immense dedication towards his profession.
Sanjay Sir’s teachings and his words will forever be cherished by his multitude of students and he will always remain a guiding light in the field of education.
We at SarkariSchool.in would like to dedicate this story to Late Sanjay Singh’s undying passion for education and its huge impact on the whole community. His loss is irrevocable and he will be missed by his family, along with a huge number of students who were taught by him.
(With Utkarsh Nishant)
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Paramtosh Singh - May 27, 2021
Wonderful tribute Abhishek Ji. Thank you so much ! He would have lived more had Covid not taken him away from us. He was a father and a guru for us five siblings. Both roles he played so beautifully. Not just English and Economics, he also taught us several lessons of life in his own unique style. Once he saw that he has inculcated is us a deep sense of responsibility, he let us chart our own path. He was a brilliant person. Rest in peace, Papa !