How the school started
Born in a lower-middle-class family, Mahavir Prasad faced many hardships in getting educated. His parents worked hard to support his school and college fees, but they could not afford to send him to a higher institution. He had to settle for opening a small shop in his village, hoping to earn enough to survive. But the shop did not bring much profit, and he soon realized that he had to look for other opportunities.
Mahavir then decided to move to Delhi, where he found a job in the private sector. He was happy to earn a decent salary and send some money back to his family. He thought he had finally found his place in the world, but fate had a cruel twist for him. He lost his job due to some unforeseen circumstances, and he was left with no income and no savings. He felt like he had hit rock bottom, and he did not know what to do next.
Upon returning to his village, Khadri Shyampur, Rishikesh, Mahavir remembered his dream of making a difference for the villagers and wondered if he could still pursue it. He had a passion for learning and sharing his knowledge, and he wanted to see his community grow.
He noticed that there were many children in his village who did not have access to quality education. The only schools available were the government ones, which were overcrowded and underfunded. He thought that he could offer them something better, something that would inspire them and motivate them. He decided to start his own institute, where he would teach the children the basics of math, science, and language, as well as some life skills and values. He named it Nalanda Shiksha Sansthan, after the ancient university that was a symbol of excellence and wisdom.
Nalanda Shiksha Sansthan started with a few students, who came to his house for tuition classes. It was affordable for the poor families. Mahavir also made sure to include some fun activities and games in his curriculum, to make learning enjoyable and interactive. He soon gained the trust and admiration of the children and their parents, who saw the improvement in their academic performance.
At the start, Mahavir would provide affordable tuition classes to underprivileged kids in his village. Eventually, he wanted to establish it on a larger platform. Gradually, villagers appreciated his efforts and started sending their kids to him for better education.
The word spread quickly, and more and more students joined his institute. He had a vision of creating a holistic and inclusive learning environment, where every child would have a chance to grow and thrive. The number of children grew to 70 and that’s how Mahavir Prasad became a role model in his village.
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A noticeable improvement
Mahavir further nurtured his dream of transforming the lives of the children in his village through education. He had 70 students in his first batch, who came to his humble space with two rooms. He started spreading awareness on the importance of education among the parents and the community, who were mostly illiterate and poor.
Mahavir believed that education was the key to empowerment and progress, and he wanted to make a difference. He worked hard and tirelessly, and soon saw the results of his efforts. His students showed remarkable improvement in their academic performance and confidence. His institute also gained recognition and respect from the state board, which appreciated his initiative and his vision. He received more and more applications from children who wanted to join his institute, and he had to expand his space and his staff. He hired some qualified and dedicated teachers, who shared his passion and his mission. He also increased his courses to cover more subjects and levels, up to class 5. Slowly 200 students joined his mission and he was amazed by their growth and potential.
Offering free education to kids who can’t afford
Mahavir, after receiving recognition from the government, now offers free education to more than 50 students who cannot afford it in his school under the RTE Act. The RTE Act is a law that guarantees the right to free and compulsory education for children aged between 6-14 years in India.
He is proud of his school and the achievements of his students (more than 100 students), who had qualified for national-level volleyball and Yogasan display.
Impact of lockdown and Varthana’s support
“Varthana supported me in upgrading my school’s infrastructure and provided me with Unlock Books material when I was unable to guide my staff during the lockdown,” Mahavir says. During the pandemic, his school had to close for two years, and he lost contact with his students and staff. He felt helpless and hopeless, watching his dream fade away. He wondered if his students would ever return and if they would be able to catch up with their lost learning.
However, he received a call from Varthana offering him a bundle of Unlock Books material designed to address the learning gap caused by the pandemic. He was surprised and grateful, and he decided to give it a try. He contacted his staff and gave them the Unlock sheets, instructing them to visit each student’s home individually and help them with the exercises. His staff followed his instructions and reported back to him regularly. He was amazed to see the progress of his students, who were eager to learn and resume their education.
“I felt a surge of hope and joy. Thank you Varthana for the support and guidance. I knew my dream was not over, and that I could still make a difference in the lives of my students,” Mahavir expresses emotionally, looking forward to giving his school and his students a makeover.
His vision for the future is to equip schools with smart classrooms, enabling students to access technology and top-notch infrastructure. Currently, his main focus is to expand the intermediate-level curriculum to include science and technology, providing students with better career opportunities.
His ultimate goal is to provide children in the village with excellent exposure, creating employment opportunities for them.