No matter how you choose to look at it, no job is as important as training tomorrow’s leaders. An educator’s job in training and mentoring the next generation is so crucial that if not done properly, it can lead to a generational disaster; a generation without knowledge, characterized by faulted priorities.
Quality education is every child’s fundamental right, irrespective of financial status or the environment in which the child was brought up. This is the mantra of renowned educator Jyoti Kumari Sarmah who, despite being a principal in a school in Kuralguri, a remote village in Deragon, Assam, has been instrumental in the academic revolution that has begun sweeping across the rural region.
She is dedicated to her job of motivating her students and teachers and pushing them to strive for excellence.
Students in remote villages, who hitherto felt isolated and separated from society, now boast of scientific knowledge, both in theory and practice. Sarmah is helping with science-based activities to broaden their perspective of the world they live in and through experiments that will positively affect their lives and communities.
As India celebrates its National Science Day, we can draw inspiration from Sarmah, and have faith in students who look poised to take on the world.
From model preparation, project preparation and chart-making to speech delivery, map learning, sky observation and soil testing, there are a lot of ways she’s preparing her students for the future.
“I like to share knowledge and popularize science writing in Assamese. I want children to not take science only as a subject but as a fun experience,” says Sarmah.
Her passion for ensuring every child gets the quality education they deserve is not a recent phenomenon. It was entrenched in her background as the child of teachers and being around an academic community. With over three decades of experience, she extends her impact to the students of Kuralguri Higher Secondary School. She is also a writer with several titles in her name. Some of her books include non-fictional works like Asomor Amulya Udhbid Sampad, Gyanor Pora Bodholoi, Bigyan Prokritir Gan and works of fiction such as Avoh Sangeet aru Anyanya Golpo and Sristir Senduria Pratisrutire.
One of her greatest qualities is being a remarkable manager of both human and material resources, as she employs every tool at her disposal in achieving her aim of promoting education in Kuralguri. Using a social media account, Sarmah and her team can enhance engagement by constantly uploading schedules and snippets of events to get more public awareness.
“At first, I wanted to publicise our students’ achievements. Despite being a school in a rural region, where most people are poor but talented, I wanted to bring these people to the limelight and make sure more people know about them. Also, I want to attract more people to Assamese medium government schools. There is also a Google database of our alumni as a pinned post,” she says.
Continuing, this inspiring tutor reveals the satisfaction derived from such publicity. “Teachers also get inspired when appreciated for the students’ achievements. As a result of being active on social media, many people far away from Golaghat know about our school. An Assamese person from the USA contacted us and gifted five phones to the meritorious students. We also had an Assamese professor from the USA visit our school, ” Sarmah adds.
In order to be able to take the vision farther than what is now, support is needed from the government. For Sarmah, it’s beyond the mundane, everyday need of schools. She desires a transformation of the current paradigm that supports innovation and individual growth.
“We organise several activities such as science model making, creating wall and handwritten magazines, toy making workshops, environmental programmes, art exhibitions and more. There has been zero dropout and increase in enrollment. We also have a vegetable garden prepared by our students. Students are now exploring books beyond the school course; our library is always packed. Sports-wise, our students have represented in national level games.
To take the vision further, she needs support from the government. For Sarmah, it’s beyond the mundane, everyday need of schools. She desires a transformation of the current paradigm that supports innovation and individual growth. “To the government, my suggestion is we should change the examination system so that it doesn’t encourage rote learning. There should be an opportunity for students to choose whatever subject they would like to study. We must improve the co-curricular facilities and skill development. Our school infrastructure also needs to be improved”.
There are some notable accomplishments that Sarmah has had over her very illustrious career. Some of them include earning several state awards for her literary works. She has also made enormous efforts to create interest among science students through competitions like the block-level science-based competition.
Sarmah firmly believes in community building; especially a close-knit relationship between teachers and parents. “We have a parent-teacher association (PTA) and a ‘Matri Gut’. Teachers and principals regularly visit students’ homes for better bonding. There’s also a mentorship program in place where a teacher especially takes care of a few students, especially the bright ones but are economically poor.”
Today, she is already a hero to thousands, if not millions, of people. Several students have taken up science writing and the job of a science knowledge organiser inspired by Sarmah’s work. As a 4-time Project Guide National Award recipient, a 7-time Project Guide State Award recipient and a 7-time Project Guide District Award recipient, Sarmah has given her all and is getting the recognition she deserves. In her district, she has also been honoured for her exemplary work, including the revered award for her school’s overall performance in higher secondary final examinations in 2019 and receiving the award for having the student with the highest score in the higher secondary final examinations.
Despite all of these accomplishments, Sarmah strives for more. She has a plan to “improve the school’s infrastructure and library, and to ensure that the school can continue the consistently excellent performance and further improve the results of students. I have plans to write and publish several articles and books, and also going to organise a science model-making workshop soon,” she says.
For those who know her, she brings light in dark places and knowledge where there is ignorance.
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