The Headmaster of Happiness Pathshala : Meet Snehil Pandey
266 students studying in her school which is highest in Unnao as compared to other schools. The journey from 76 to 266 was not a cakewalk.
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started,” said Mark Twain. This is also the secret of Ms. Snehil Pandey, a government school teacher presently working as headmaster in Prathmik Vidyalaya, Soharamau, Unnao, Uttar Pradesh. It is the result of her energy, enthusiasm, devotion that she is one among the forty-seven National Teachers’ Awardee. There is no boundary which can limit her happiness of receiving this award. She dedicated this award to her students, guardians and staff. She believes that her hard work resulted it and it will act as a confidence booster to move further.
Seeds embedded at home
Taking inspiration from her mother Ms. Sudha Shukla who herself has won this award; she decided to quit medical and come to this field of education. Her mother assessing her from the eyes of a teachers said that “My daughter is creative, capable, confident and much more talented and deserving than me.”
Snehil Pandey realised that the image of government schools are not very promising, parents do not have faith in it. It is the perspective of society that government school students are not smart and can not speak fluent English. She wants to break all these prejudices and hence decided to work for a change.
Ms. Sudha Shukla worked towards promoting girls education, she never punished them for coming late to school instead motivated them to do come to school after finishing their household chores. For self-defence and employment, she conducts Karate class and workshop on how to make pickles and jam. She even distributed sanitary napkins keeping in mind health and hygiene of girls. She said, “Girls are not burden anymore, they need to be given space to become capable and educated. If your daughter is educated, no need to worry about Dowry: instead of giving dowry, gift them education.”
She is continuously in contact with the society equally participating in their joy and sorrows. For developing a broader mindset she took their girl students out of the village to Bareilly and Lucknow. Till five years continuously her school won badminton championship. She says that “Education is a boon which she got and thus through this, she is inculcating healthy mindset in others to educate their children. These children are diamonds wrapped in mud, we need to polish them.” She is undoubtedly a proud mother whose daughter is taking her legacy ahead.
For an impactful government school and to give tough competition to private school attractive infrastructure is the key to attract children into the school. When she came to school, she started the journey from children sitting on mat. She joined hands with community and with the help of SDM of that area equipped the classrooms with furnitures.
She uplifted the boundary of the school with her own salary. She managed solar panel for 24 hrs electricity, battery inverter and utensils for mid-day meal from the help of people around. Guardians have done the wall paintings to remove the dullness and made the campus vibrant and colourful.
There are total 266 students studying in school which is highest in Unnao as compared to other schools. The journey from 76 to 266 was not a cakewalk. She highlighted benefits of studying in government school such as free uniform, books, buses as well as different government policies which is there to support them in all aspects.
She used the slogan ” Save your money, come to our school.” She communicated with parents and joined hands with guardians. With the help of children, organised street plays and dramas. Her efforts beared fruit when five students got selected in Navodaya Vidyalaya and Vidya Gyan; it helped her in winning the faith of parents once again. Attractive infrastructure also attracted parents and children towards this school. Later she realised that only enrollment will not do, sustainable attendance is also important. She came up with a unique concept like Bulawa toli and call record register in which every students’ contact number was mentioned.
To begin she organised a rally to enroll girls in school and to flatten dropout rates. A matru samuh was created awaring mothers of girl children about importance of education for the better life of girls. Under her guidance they took oath to support their education in all possible ways. She acted herself as a mother of every girl studying in the school and developed a friendly relation with them.
She connected herself from door to door and as a result there are 136 girls studying in school now. Annually one girl who scores well in academics and paticipate in all activities is given a cycle by her as a token of appreciation and to attract other girls of the society towards education and school.
“How you look this matters a lot, it makes you feel confident.” To groom children she distributed colourful t-shirts and in collaboration with IIT Kanpur she manages to provide every student a kit bag. With the support of the community support she gave them new getup which includes shoes, socks, belt, tie, identity card, sweater and blanket. A mirror is there in school where students see themselves, comb properly and then attend classes .
Speaking English is now a days associated with social status. It is a sign of being educated. To meet this new requirement of modern education she took the challenge to make students speak English. She labelled everything visible in school promises in English such as stairs, handpump, bucket, ventilator, door, window and many more to enrich their vocabulary and she also taught them how to sign in English. Thus competing in each aspect with private schools.
There is a reading corner in school: on the wooden stand newspapers are kept and children read it regularly. It updates them about current affairs and enhances their reading skill and they end up learning new words. To improve their language efficiency competitions like poetry writing and singing and story writing competition were conducted.
Environment friendly campus
Under the campaign “each one plant one” every student adopted one plant and monitor its growth. Thus integrating learning with environment and making them sensible towards our ecosystem. As a result there are more than three hundred plants in the campus.
Wall of happiness
It is unique concept. Here society and future citizens of India (children) come in direct contact, understanding each other’s needs and try to fulfil it thus distributing happiness. Near this wall parents donate used books of their ward, materials which is not useful in anyone’s home are kept here, and clothes; the needy takes it. Thus it helps in enhancing relationship skills.
Role play and leadership skills
As the student- teacher ratio is not appropriate. There are only three teachers. Hence students themselves play a role of teacher to teach their younger friends. It promotes peer learning. For enhancement of leadership skills one day in a month all work of the school are managed by one student. The office, classes everything are assigned them to be cared . They are responsible for running out all the activities in the campus for that particular day. Hence learning managerial skills and multitasking attitude.
To make learning joyful and avoid boredom, subjects are distributed on a weekly basis. For that week the focus is on that subject only. It helps in continuity and consistency in learning
Extra curricular activities
Every child is different from other. Hence keeping in mind their area of excellence and interest and to make others learn from them activities are divided on weekly basis. One complete week is devoted to that particular activity only in which participation of everyone is mandatory. There is karate class for girls to teach them self defence skills. There are activities like dancing, singing, playing instruments like drum, tabla, harmonium; puppet show, poster making and pot painting. This sharpens their creative mind.
Not only theory based but practical knowledge is also imparted to students. Successful personality and those who are successfully running their vocation for example people from National Highway Authority, doctors, carpenter, postman, vegetable seller, grocery shop owner, chefs are called and voluntary class was organised. Thus giving them daily life synopsis and making them respect every job, embibing dignity of labour concept in them.
One of the innovative measure that she adoted is pre-planned event calendar. It hepled a lot as students are well aware of upcoming events and prepare themselves before hand. They celebrate Literacy day, Children’s day, World Cancer day, World Unity day, Earth day, Environment day etc. Thus at ideation level also their minds are working.
Using ICT tools
She is conducting online classes through whatsapp group to cope up with the present situation. Keeping in view the students who do not have access to these major means of education, she contacted alumni of her school, made their whatsapp group assigning them the post of President, Minister and Helper and trained them to take classes of those unprivileged students every evening following all the guidelines of government and keeping social distance. She along with her team go to check progress of children, give them worksheets, check it and give them new ones. She is also working on developing digital library. She has created her school website and through ICT generated a QR code scanning which anyone can read books at any place.
Circumstances are not that only teachers are digitally literate, students are more ahead of them. This school is equipped with projector, broadband connectivity and sustainable internet connection, in the absence of teachers they themselves connect all these and learn online. They are well versed in typing skill, opening YouTube and uploading their lectures on certain contents of their syllabus on it encouraging others to do so. They use Diksha portal also. Thus they reduced the burden of teachers.
In this time of pandemic she is trying to make children independent for employment by teaching them making incense sticks, soaps, bag, weaving mat, sewing own undergarments, handkerchiefs, and cushion with cotton clothes.
A healthy mind lives in health body. To make them fit and active there is football club where interested girls and boys play. There are other sports also such as kho- kho, badminton etc. The students of this school have reached in state level in these sports. A girl named Satakshi Rawat won state level badminton championship. Apart from them yoga and meditation are also practiced in school campus.
Snehil Pandey calls her school Happiness Pathsala where Learning happens in a joyful, friendly manner. To connect more with students and society they together celebrate all the festivals in school irrespective of caste, culture and religion for example Christmas, Holi, Ramnavmi, Matki Phor and many more. They also keep various theme parties like yellow colour theme party, swing party and kite flying party. The best part is children dressing up according to the event. None can match their excitement level. The purpose here is to give them exposure and platform. Thus spreading love, affection, harmony, peace and happiness.
The journey will continue…
Sharing her experience she said, “To bring a massive change, a teacher should not limit herself only to duty hours, you need to devote as much time as you can. Community is a great resource and can be your best support. In school, boundary should be there, but it should not be visible: both way communication and interaction between teacher, students and society should take place.”
Given a chance to keep her view in front of Education Minister, Prime Minister, President she will request to build more platforms for those teachers who are doing excellent work. SarkariSchool.in appreciates her work and congratulates her on receiving this prestigious National Teachers Award-2020.
(With Puja Kumari)