The inspiration behind opening the school
Growing up in the bustling city of Jodhpur, many dream of a better job or business, amenities, comfort, and a secure life. But for Mr. Raichand Latiyal, his passion for education led him to a different path. Despite the many opportunities the city had to offer, he chose to open a school in his native village, Osian, Jodhpur.
With a Master of Arts in History and Sociology, and a Master of Science in Zoology, Mr. Raichand had the knowledge and qualifications to make a difference. But it was his childhood dream, nurtured during his years as a student, that truly drove him to open the school. He knew that in his small village, education was the key to unlocking a better future for the children and his community.
As he watched the school take shape, Raichand couldn’t help but feel a sense of fulfillment. He knew that the school would be more than just a building, it would be a beacon of hope for the children of Osian.
It would provide them with the tools they needed to break free from the cycle of poverty and limited opportunities that had trapped so many of their previous generations.
“I was inspired by my father, who worked as an education officer in the education department. As I observed his work closely, I came to understand the profound impact education can have on people’s lives. I wanted to eradicate illiteracy and other issues from my village and help my community grow and progress. I decided to open a school in my village so that children could gain respect, and I knew education was the path to earning it,” he shared, beaming with pride.
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Starting up the school, facing challenges that made him stronger
Raichand loves a good challenge. He said, “People discouraged me by saying it would be difficult to sustain a school in a village, to buy land for the private school and to convince people to send their children to school.”
The village was plagued at that time by issues such as a lack of awareness about the importance of education, early addiction, child marriages, and child labor. But Mr. Raichand had a never-give-up attitude and faced the challenges head on, starting with awareness campaigns. He noted, “I made the villagers aware of the importance of education by explaining that it is not only important for securing a job but also for protecting them from being exploited. They can read names on buses and shops, MRP on products and that’s just some basic everyday needs. We conducted seminars and workshops to address issues like child marriage and early-age addiction. This helped me get children to the school.”
Hiring teachers was another significant challenge, but he persevered and found dedicated educators who were willing to make the journey to the village from Jodhpur. The school provided accommodation, food, and transportation facilities for the teachers.
Mr. Raichand also made sure that the school was accessible to all by providing fee concessions and connecting students with government schemes and scholarships. “Through this hard work, I was able to establish the first school with senior secondary grades in the village”.
“I was proud of myself for making this dream a reality; it was a dream of a brighter future for the children of the village and the village as a whole.”
It was a hard and challenging journey, but with each child who walked through the doors of the school, Raichand knew his efforts made a real difference. He did not just provide education or run the school, he impacted the lives of his own community members. Then came a time to take up the next big leap. There was no college near the school within an 80 km of radius. In 2016, he opened his first senior college near the village.
Till 2007 there were hardly 4-5 graduates in the village, but now there are 1-2 graduates in each family and most of them got jobs in the Rajasthan police and Indian Army. Raichand not only provided education to the village but also brought a hope for a better future to Osian.
There were many women who left their education midway due to child marriages, but Raichand did not let this be a hindrance for them. “I wanted to give these women an education. We established a study centre with the National University of Open Schooling, Vardhaman Mahavir Open University, so that women and labourers who had dropped out of school could finish their graduation.”
School During Covid-19
Even during the pandemic, the Latiyal school did extremely well. They visited households and called students to the school for short duration and also took care of proper social distancing and hygiene. This way they ensured that students would not face much learning gap.
When school reopened, they provided students with customized bridge course workbooks and asked teachers to take some extra classes to resolve queries. They also cut off many holidays, and asked parents to reduce students’ playtime to some extent. Talking about the current status of the learning gap, Raichand said, “We worked hard, and now students are back to their grades. The learning gap is negligible now.”
Raichand not only provided education but also a sense of security and safety to the students and their families during such a difficult time. His dedication and commitment to the students were evident in his actions, even during the darkest of times.
Experience with Varthana
“Varthana significantly contributed to our growth,” he said, adding, “We got connected to Varthana in 2019 and took a loan. We used it for purchasing land for college and setting up computer labs in the school. Additionally, Varthana helped us with academic-related digital content, which helped us to keep students learning in the flow during the lockdown.”
“The students in the village had a natural curiosity towards computers. As the children started getting access to computer knowledge, new parents started getting attracted towards our school. This contributed to an increase in new enrollments,” said Raichand with a sense of pride and joy.
The partnership with Varthana not only helped the school but also provided students with the necessary tools and resources they needed to learn and grow. It had also helped Raichand to achieve his goal of providing education to his community and empowering his village.
Raichand is a visionary leader who wants to bring change. He shared his future vision for his school, college, and society saying, “Now that we have just started a degree college for arts stream (BA), I want to expand it with other streams like Commerce, Science, and agriculture. I want to empower farmers and future farmers to advance in their profession, and also want them to have various experiments with the crops by getting a degree and knowledge related to it.”
“I think if I don’t contribute to society, then there is no use of my education. Education means to serve others,” said Raichand, his voice filled with passion and determination.
“I want to include many courses in the college that are currently unreachable to people here, such as B.Ed., D.Ed. I am pursuing an LLB and writing a book on all the laws of the Rajasthan government regarding private educational institutions, so I can share knowledge and spread awareness.”
“Also, I have a vision to provide free education to children from the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, and children with severe health conditions like AIDS and cancer,” he went on to express his determination to accomplish his vision and make education accessible to everyone, regardless of their background or circumstances.