School Transformation through Children Parliament: Story of Nathu Ram Sankhla
“A child is full of potential, you only need to enhance it and use it in a right direction.”, Nathu Ram Sankhla said
‘The child is the father of the man’ was coined by William Wordsworth in one of his poem in 1802 and the same is realized by a government school teacher in this present era. This is the tale of an extraordinary teacher Nathu Ram Sankhla, who is working at present in Government Higher Secondary School of Kishorpura, Sikar, Rajasthan as a senior lecturer (science).
This story reflect back to those days when he was working as a Teacher in Government Middle School, Dhani Poonia in Churu District of Rajasthan. When he joined there the classes are running up to standard 8th and the no. of staffs were only limited to four. The school was also lacking in basic required infrastructure. Therefore he decided to take the help of children. “A child is full of potential, you only need to enhance it and use it in a right direction.”, Nathu Ram Sankhla said. With that spirit in mind, he established the children’s parliament in his school popularly known as Bal Sansad.
This Bal Sansad proved to be the milestone not only in the development of school but also in the development of entire village. Just imagine, a village where still facilities of transportation are not easily available and from that village more than 50 students who were passed out from a government school, are employed in government service. Through this Bal Sansad the overall development took place; whether it is the area of Education, Sports, Personality Development, Health and Hygiene or Go green initiatives.
In 2012-13, he established this Sansad in his school along with the Principal Mr. Ram Krishna Saharan and Maths teacher. This was done through a democratic process that is via election, the candidates for different posts were chosen and rest of the students casted their votes in favor of their favorite candidates. Thus among the children only a Prime Minister, Education Minister, and Sports Minister were elected and they were instructed to identify the challenges in their respective areas and to think of the solution of overcoming it.
Talking about those days Mr Sankhla says- “The enrollment rate was very low in my school. I put this problem in front of Bal Sansad and this Sansad cited two major reasons behind it. The first was the lack of sports events in the school and the second was the desire of a smart uniform just like the private schools.” Thus he met with the villagers and sarpanch Shree Pannalal Poonia; made them aware of these problems and with the help of an organization which was running in the village, where people used to donate money for the welfare of the village; in which there was a fund reserved for education also. He made the use of this fund and introduced a new white color uniform with proper tie and belt in the year 2014-15 and the enrollment rate went from 43 to 78.
He made the villagers ‘dream’ of a bright future which is possible only through education. Thus by making them realize this he was able to free the land which was encroached by people and made the use of this unused land for building new rooms for school, villagers also gave their free labor and helped in building a new infrastructure for the school. The state government also helped a lot.
With respect to the second problem, the then Sports Minister of Bal Sansad Mr. Manish Poonia who now is in B.A second year in MJD college, Tarapur says that- “first time district level volleyball tournament took place in this school. At that time, I was in eighth class. The problem that we faced was raising fund for this event. The Bal Sansad discussed this issue with the villagers and with the help of villagers and a private school principal which is nearby, the event was organized successfully.” The boys team stood third and the girls team stood second in the same tournament. From the next year onwards children of this school are playing at national and international level. More than 43 students have played at states level and more than 100 have played at district level. He himself stood second in district level wrestling championship. This school also gave one national and one international player in wrestling and that too girl. Sunita Poonia is a famous name in this village. She is an international level athelete. She won 400m race at national level and even represented this village in country like Japan. The students won championship in various sports events such as wrestling, volleyball, netball, and atheletics.
Bal Sansad also appealed to the Sarpanch of the village for a ground and a 200m ground was made in village which proved beneficial for youth. They practice running there and brother of Manish Poonia,, Naresh Poonia got selected in army. Thus village is gaining name and fame in the area of sports. Sports became the integral part of student’s life and it built sportsman spirit in them.
Bal Sansad also ensured that no child have any kind of fear while he is entering first time at school. In respect to this Ashok Kumar who is now in 12th standard served as the Education minister when he was in Standard sixth. He says- ” We did our best to remove the fear of coming to school from the children’s mindset. We made the process of teaching and learning interesting. Every week I used to conduct meetings and introduced many activities such as debate competition, antrakshari and wall painting competition; which benefitted the school in two ways. First of all, the walls of the school got automatically painted, no need of putting extra effort and secondly those children were identified who have the potential of moving ahead in this field. Their creativity got acknowledged.”
Nathu Ram sir created a team named Gramonmukh whose participants were 21 youths. They started spreading the colors of their dreams, from the School walls and also covered the important walls of the village. Some of the students of this team are working in government sector and some are studying in central university of Haryana and JNU. A weekly journal was also introduced where Bal Sansad used to motivate the children of school to write stories and essays and published it in this journal.
One of the student named Sanjay Poonia, currently pursuing B.A in MJD college Taranagar: was the prime minister of this Bal Sansad in standard 8th, shared his experience that the students used to have limited source materials to refer. Therefore, with the help of villagers and with the efforts of Bal Sansad they opened a library where villagers, youths and even older people started coming to read newspapers, magazines. Children from other school and villages also visited there for studying. Thus people became more interested towards education.
Mr Nathu Ram says the children of my school lacked confidence. We observed that in payers the children who stood at back do not speak at all. Therefore, he put this problem in front of Bal Sansad and since the prayer ground was large, they came up with an innovative idea of making all of them stand in a circle facing each other and they were monitored. It was a rule that one child of every class will participate in the assembly so that everyone of them gets a chance to speak up. Slowly the children started taking interest in it. They will be prepared beforehand and waited for their chance to come.
Nathu Ram further says that in a school the VIP’s are students only no one else. Hence in the annual function all the inaugural session, speech, welcoming dignitaries, and greetings of guest whether it is MLA, MP or any other public representatives, was done by them only. These measures boosts the confidence of the pupils and as a result Ashok Kumar of this school in the year 2015 won Rs 10,000 from the organization Design for Change as his story was one of the 100 stories selected by them. Not only this but in the event organized in Ahmedabad, gave interview also without any hesitation. The other student named Ashok invented weight stand witnessing the headache of older women laborers because of lifting excessive weight on their head. He went for inspire award 2020 at state level and won Rs 10,000.
The school also followed Go green initiative and at present there are approx. 1,500 plants in the school campus. Every year on 10th July, the birth date of Nathuram Sankhla every children plant a sapling and the approx total number reaches to 100. Thus establishing a beautiful relationship between nature and human beings. The school got nominated for Paryavaran Mitra award as well as for Wipro’s Earthian award.
The focus was not only on academic, sports and personality development but various surveys was done by Bal Sansad for example number of houses where there is no toilet and gas cylinders for cooking. The request was made to Panchayat to provide the basic necessities of life to those houses. Keeping in mind ‘health is wealth’ they noticed that children were not brushing their teeth on regular basis. Thus on the occasion of independence day a brush and toothpaste was given to every child by the Bhamashah and before half an hour they were called to school and a habit of regularly brushing their teeth was cultivated in them.
From the perspective of Mr. Nathu Ram Sankhla this journey is just the beginning, there are miles to go. There are many unfulfilled dreams like digitalization of library, providing each student a tablet, the modern means of Education. He does not take any credit but says that all these are possible because of the help of the villagers and Bal Sansad.
Today’s children are very smart. We should not underestimate them but rather guide them in proper direction. SarkariSchool.in team appreciate such teachers and such students who have the capability to change the world around them.
(with Puja Kumari)