Varthana School Leader: Transforming Lives Beyond Unemployment

After Experiencing Unemployment, This School Leader Opens Institution Believing Education Shapes Destinies

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Ramesh Kumar Sonkar, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Higher Secondary School, Balod, Chhattisgarh

Ramesh Kumar Sonkar found his purpose while working as a part-time teacher. Recognizing the plight of underprivileged children in Balod who lacked access to education, he felt compelled to make a difference. Despite facing financial challenges, Ramesh embarked on the journey of opening Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Higher Secondary School in the village, driven by a passion for providing quality education to those who needed it the most.

Netaji Subhash

The school is located in the small town of Arjunda, in Balod, Chhattisgarh. It was established in 2003 to provide affordable and quality education to the local community’s children. Over the years, the school has grown and expanded and currently offers education up to the higher secondary level. This story is about the school’s journey, struggles, and achievements.

Background

Ramesh, a Mathematics Master’s graduate, is a dedicated educator who believes in the life-changing impact of education. “Education shapes destinies,” he asserts. Before founding the school, Ramesh, who worked part-time as a teacher, experienced a period of unemployment after completing his Master’s. Reflecting on this, he shares, “After my Master’s, I faced unemployment and realized the community needed accessible, quality education.”

How the school started

The school began with Nursery to 5th Standard and gradually evolved into a Higher Secondary School in 2009. By the close of 2019, the school boasted an enrollment of over 600 students. “We’ve grown steadily to meet the needs of our students,” says the school leader. With 13 spacious classrooms tailored to student requirements, the school, affiliated with the Chhattisgarh Board, delivers education in Hindi medium. “We aim to provide quality education,” he notes.

Teacher’s Role in School’s Growth

The school has a devoted and well-qualified team of teachers dedicated to delivering top-notch education to students. Ramesh states, “Our teachers hold a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree and a Bachelor’s in education”.

Regular training programs are provided to keep teachers updated on the latest teaching methods and government norms. He emphasizes,”We strive to maintain high teaching standards.”

School’s Achievements and Challenges

Ramesh shares, “Our school has earned praise in the local community. We consistently secured a top-10 position in the Arjunda block for three consecutive years. We’re proud of our student facilities-proper washrooms, a playground, and ample staff,” he reflects. However, the school faced hurdles in its early years as Ramesh recollects, “Collecting fees was a challenge, limited to harvesting seasons. Despite a low fee structure, achieving 100% fee collection remained a struggle for us.”

School’s Struggles

Ramesh admits, “We encountered many challenges in the beginning.” A significant hurdle was fee collection, especially in a locality where it was always a struggle. He shares, “Collecting fees was a challenge, limited to harvesting seasons”. Despite a low fee structure, achieving 100% fee collection remained a struggle for the school. “Managing finances became tough,” he adds, underscoring the hard work needed to keep the school running.

Relationship with Varthana

In 2017, the underfunded institution needed a loan to build its infrastructure. Ramesh tried different private and public banks, but they were slow, taking 50-60 days to disburse the amount. Then, a Varthana representative stepped in at the critical moment. With Varthana, the loan disbursement process was smooth, and the funds reached the school within just 20 days. A gratified Ramesh expresses, “It was a critical time for our school, and at that time, Varthana helped us when nobody was lending us money. We appreciate Varthana wholeheartedly.”

Covid-19 and School

Ramesh’s school had issues with students not paying fees, and about 30% of them switched to the newly opened government school. Additionally, the state had a policy during the pandemic that allowed students to join other schools without Transfer Certificates and without paying fees for the entire year. Schools were also instructed not to ask for fees during that period. Despite these difficulties, Ramesh says,”Our school management was determined to keep the school running. We organized online classes for the students, creating specific WhatsApp groups for each class.”

Prospects

English medium education is the new normal in today’s education system, and Ramesh plans to get the school registered for English medium affiliation soon. He notes, “This move aims to keep students from shifting to schools that offer education in English.” The school management also has plans to boost enrollment right from the start of the new school session. Despite facing challenges, Ramesh is determined to bring quality education to the children of Arjunda turning his vision into reality.

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Higher Secondary School stands as evidence of Ramesh’s commitment to providing quality education, even in the face of challenges. Despite obstacles, the school’s management and teachers consistently prioritize the education of their students.

He concludes,” Our school gives hope for a brighter tomorrow, where education is not a luxury but a right for everyone.”

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