The transformation from Daily Wage Labour to a School Owner: A Story of Vinayak Academy

The transformation from Daily Wage Labour to a School Owner: A Story of Vinayak Academy

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Rudraprasad Sahu, Vinayak Academy, Baloda Bazar, Chhattisgarh

In the heart of rural Chhattisgarh, Rudraprasad, a man of modest origins, started a big mission to improve the landscape of education in his community. He believed that rural children, much like their urban counterparts, deserved access to quality education despite the various challenges they face.

Challenges in Rural Education

“Rural children need quality schools to do well in the future,” emphasizes Rudraprasad. “While there are some basic schools in villages, it’s hard for students to study beyond that. Many have to travel far to cities for better studies,” he adds.

He also observed a prevalent issue in rural areas: many families struggle for a stable income to support their children’s education. “Most families here rely on farming,” he notes, “and many supplement their income with low-paying jobs. As the cost of education rises, it becomes unaffordable for most families in my village.”

Personal Odyssey and Inspiration

Rudraprasad faced many challenges to get an education. “Coming from a family without much money,” he reveals. “I worked hard and earned a Master’s degree in Computer application. These challenges inspired me to help improve education in rural areas.”

Also Read: This Leader Left His Well Paying Job To Build A School That Is Changing Lives In Raigarh

The Birth of Vinayak Academy

After working for five years in a private educational academy. Rudraprasad came back to his hometown, Sarangarh, in 2015. That’s when he planted the seeds of Vinayak Academy—offering hope for local students who come from unprivileged backgrounds.

“My family comes from extremely humble beginnings,” he recounts. “My father worked as a fitter, my mother as a laborer in Himachal Pradesh, and during my graduation, I even had to toil as a daily-wage laborer.” Nevertheless, these hardships didn’t deter him; he earned a diploma in computer application.

Soon, he realized a glaring shortage of affordable quality education in his village. The few private schools that existed were far away or too expensive for most families. So, Rudraprasad decided to bridge this gap by creating a school in his village that matched the standards of urban institutions.

He invested everything he had, selling his land and borrowing funds to bring Vinayak Academy to life. Even though some people told him to start a school in the city where he could earn more, he wanted to help his village. He reached out to people he knew to find good teachers who were willing to work in rural areas and hired his staff from different places like Himachal, Orissa, Kolkata, and Chhattisgarh.

Education Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic

COVID-19 brought new challenges to Vinayak Academy. “Online learning disrupted our students’ progress,” says Rudraprasad, noting that problems like too much screen time, lack of physical activities due to remote learning, and discipline problems started piling up. Additionally, not all students had smartphones for online classes, which exacerbated disparities in learning levels.

In response, the school’s management equipped teachers with advanced planning and student management skills. Before resuming regular lessons, the academy conducted thorough assessments of students, placing those who needed extra support into specialized classes. “Our goal was to bridge the gap between students’ learning levels and enhance overall academic performance,” Rudraprasad emphasizes.

Interestingly, the school leader observed that while traditional learning levels may have dipped, students’ cognitive abilities and sharpness had significantly improved during the lockdown. “They were quick to catch up on pending syllabus,” he points out, “a testament to their heightened grasping abilities.”

Partnership with Varthana

In 2017, Rudraprasad found out about Varthana and applied for a loan to purchase school vehicles and upgrade the infrastructure. He shares, “I was impressed by how quickly they disbursed the funds compared to other financial institutions and am looking forward to future collaborations with Varthana.”

Also Read: A School Leader Who Doesn’t Ask for Recognition

A Vision for the Future

Rudraprasad has big plans. “I want to implement a day boarding system at the school premises,” he says with enthusiasm. This would allow students to complete all their schoolwork on campus and then enjoy quality time with their families at home.

He also wants to build a hostel for students, giving life to an affordable residential school in his community. His goal is to continue walking the path toward a brighter future for rural education.

In a world where education is often a privilege, Rudraprasad’s journey from humble beginnings to becoming an educational trailblazer is truly inspiring. Even when things were challenging, he remained undeterred, consistently striving to offer quality education to rural children. His story shows that with hard work, you can change things for the better.

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