Jamshedpur: Classrooms that look like train compartments, a gigantic “snake and ladder” game board painted on the floor and some innovative teaching methods have attracted students to a school in a remote village in Jharkhand’s East Singhbumn district.

As the efforts of journalist-turned-teacher Arvind Tiwary have paid off, the dropout rate in Upgraded Middle School in Tangrain village in Potka block is now zero.

“Thirty-five new students got enrolled since the school re-opened post Covid-19 restrictions on September 24,” said Tiwary, the acting principal of the school.

He applied innovative ideas to enrol children and motivate them to pursue studies seriously ever since he joined the government school, about 45 kilometres from Jamshedpur, in 2017.

During the lockdown, he gave three rooms of the five-room single-storey school building the shape of railway compartments.

From a distance, the school building looks like a passenger train.

Appreciating the efforts of painter Rishav Malhar, Tiwary said this change has attracted students and they do not miss any opportunity to get photographed before the building.

Tiwary said he has spent money from his pocket to make the changeover.

The school in Tangrain, located near the Jharkhand-Odisha border, has started getting students from neighbouring Jonodih, Khidirsai and Siling villages since the institute reopened.

With the new enrollments, the total number of students from standards 1 to 8 has gone up to 269, Tiwary said.

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Admitting that the dropout rate in rural pockets is high, 50-year-old Tiwary said the majority of tribal children could not express their problems to those who come from outside.

To break this inhibition, Tiwary who is a resident of Jamshedpur city said he tried to approach them through sports and games.

“I painted a large snake and ladder board on a concrete platform on the school campus, and it was an instant hit with the students,” he said.

They started playing the game and Tiwary himself sometimes took part in it which helped break the ice.

Tiwary’s other efforts too turned the school the most sought after one in the vicinity as far as enrollment of children is concerned.

He used to roam around in villages carrying textbooks, storybooks, pens, pencils and crayons during the lockdown period to inculcate reading habits among children and solve problems in subjects like mathematics at their doorstep.

As the majority of students come from poor families and are unable to afford smartphones to study online, these helped them continue their studies.

On an earlier occasion, Tiwary had thrown a challenge to the students to memorise tables within a timeframe and promised to take them to a movie if they succeeded.

The students who did it were taken to a screening of the Hindi movie “Bahubali” in Jamshedpur.

He had also taken several students of the school as well as their parents for a joyride between Tatanagar and Badampahar on a train. For many, it was the first experience of a train journey.

Appreciating Tiwary’s efforts, the villagers have donated around 12 kathas of land for the development of the school. The authorities have already erected a boundary wall on the land.

Besides, gardening, mushroom production, swimming competition and archery training are also taught to students.

Tiwary was honoured with a district-level award for his contribution to the field of education this year.

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