An entire panchayat looks up to this teacher

Headmaster of a Thrissur school involves not just students but local people too in activities such as farming

When M.B. Prasad took over as headmaster of Government Lower Primary School, Varavoor, Thrissur, in 2017, the school with 385 students was an institution that, in his own words, no one in the panchayat paid attention to. Within one year, it had emerged the best school in the district, and he bagged the State government award for best teacher in 2018.

Four year later, Mr. Prasad is among the 44 teachers who have been selected to receive the National Awards to Teachers this year, to be given away by President Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday morning.

Mr. Prasad believes a school is a textbook not only for students but also for parents and the local people. Children will understand better if they are able to put into practice what they learn. Since the young students learn about farming and rearing animals in their textbooks, Mr. Prasad felt it was important to kindle their interest in it so that they never forget it wherever life takes them.

Organic vegetable cultivation was taken up in earnest in the school with the help of students and teachers, and the produce was used for the school mid-day meal scheme. Students and the local people cultivated paddy on land provided for free and even that taken on lease. They tried their hands at aquaponics and reared fish, cows, goats, rabbit, ducks, quail, and other animals. A pond, biodiversity park, and medicinal plant garden came up on the premises.

Building infrastructure

Besides infrastructure such a new building, auditorium, and smart classrooms, a number of clubs (there are 25) were launched, and extracurricular activities attracted not only students but parents and others. Occasions such as sowing and harvest became festival-like, with participation of a large number of local people. “The school is never locked; people can walk in anytime,” says Mr. Prasad.

Even during the pandemic, a school vehicle has been delivering library books to students, and parents. Children have been growing more vegetables than ever in their homes and have been part of paddy harvesting with their families in adherence to COVID-19 protocols. “We have succeeded in ensuring that during the pandemic, students and parents participate in activities together, spreading cheer.”

All these initiatives have increased the involvement and commitment of parents and Varavoor panchayat authorities to the school, says Mr. Prasad who has led this turnaround.

Recognition

The achievements of the past few years have attracted visitors and brought it recognition from the State Council of Educational Research and Training and District Institute of Education and Training, besides awards for Mr. Prasad.

Today, the school has nearly 900 students. For its headmaster though, it is just a continuation of the journey he began when he entered the profession at the young age of 19.

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