ADDRESS THE ROOT-CAUSE….
Vedaranyam (also spelt as Vedaraniam and Vedaranniyam) is a town in Nagapattinam district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The town is named after the presiding deity of the Vedaranyeswarar Temple. The recorded history of Vedaranyam is known from medieval Chola period of the 9th century and has been ruled, at different times, by the Medieval Cholas, Later Cholas, Later Pandyas, Vijayanagar Empire and the British. During India's independence struggle, C. Rajagopalachari, who would later become independent India's first Governor-General, launched a salt march in Vedaranyam parallel to the Dandi March launched by Gandhi in 1930 to protest against the sales tax levied on salt extraction.
To address the solution for any problem, be it personal, work place, especially where there are any interactions with the tiny taught, it becomes inevitable that, not only the questionable puzzle is solved, but the children also do get their due education uninterrupted. At times the teachers’ have a dual role model, which is personified au naturel, leaving no room for being fake at any point of time in their long years of career, that of a teacher and care-giver.
It is one such incident that happened in Vedaranyam, drew the attention, recognition of one and all. Mrs. Vasantha Chithravelu, 50 year old, teacher at Sundaresa Vilas Aided Primary School, which is a Government aided school situated in Andarkadu Village, where she has been teaching for the past 28 years. She after seeing the drop in the number of students during monsoon season significantly, has distributed about 1200 umbrellas worth 1 lakh to students, after noticing the repeated continued absenteeism.
It has to be recalled that one of the worst affected districts in Tamilnadu during and aftermath of the Cyclone Gaja, Nagapattinam was worst hit, it wreaked havoc to the town and the district took long time to limp back to normalcy. It was since then felt that the students attending school, started dwindling. It was then felt, small problems like access to umbrella, should not hinder education and the teacher decided to buy them for these children herself.
Mrs. Vasantha Chitravelu, how she went about it, is worth mentioning. She used her own savings to order 1200 colourful umbrellas worth Rs.1 lakh, which was delivered to her from a showroom in Madurai. She initially distributed 200 umbrellas in her school and the neighbouring ones. Later she personally visited students to give them the umbrellas. Now her umbrellas have been handed out to students of 16 schools in and around Andarkadu and Vedaranyam. She is being called fondly by her students “ASATHAL AASIRIYAI” which means astonishing teacher in English, for her giving nature to students. She has been doing such things for years now, but this is the first time she has been given her due recognition.
She recollects the hardship they all had to undergo during Cyclone Gaja, to help the needy. She along with her husband, who is a Headmaster at a local Government School and their two daughters, had raised Rs.50 lakh after the Cyclone Gaja, provided mats, clothes, 5kg rice, lights, candles, matchboxes, baby food. She cooked dinner for her students’ parents, who are predominantly construction labourers. She has received around 30 awards so far, including the Dr. Radhakrishnan Award, bestowed on her by the Government for her contributions to education.
She said, “The smiles on my students’ faces is the biggest of all awards. I will continue to strive for meeting their basic needs. I look at them as my family, as my children and so their needs are mine too”. When such teachers exist in our society, the taught are the most luckiest, because not only their quest for knowledge, but also the basic necessities are being addressed to. This has a direct impact on the number of students attending the school. This goes to show the condition of the people in those surroundings. Unless and until the root cause of the problems faced by the student, parents, society, is not given the due attention and remedy, we are not going to see a better future either for them or for our Country. Given the undisputable fact, that school going children spend most of their wakeful moments at schools it is all the more important that their physical, mental, psychological and academic well-being is taken care of.
In this connection, it is commendable to quote the messages of our Prime Minister Sri. Narendra Modi ji, who had an interacting session with the Recipients of National Teacher Awards 2018, this year. He congratulated the winners for their exceptional work. He urged them to continue striving hard to transform the life of every student. In the interaction session, he talked about the importance of using technology as a teaching aid. He asked the teachers to encourage brainstorming sessions amongst the students, to find solutions for the various day to day problems.
In furtherance, he urged the awardees to give every child an opportunity and not to bind students down. He stressed on the need to stimulate creativity amongst students. He pointed out that by encouraging creativity, that by itself will act as self-motivation for children and enable them to compete with oneself. It is very important to understand students’ perspective about various issues. He asked the teachers to keep the student inside each one of them alive and to keep learning.
This year the National Teacher Awards 2018 from Tamil Nadu have been won by Dr. M. Mansoor Ali, Diamond Jubilee Higher Secondary School, Gobichettipalayam, Erode and by R. Selvakannan, Panchayat Union Primary School, K Paramathi, Karur. It is because of teachers like Mrs. Vasantha Chitravelu, the other best teachers awardees, who are not seeing teaching as any other profession but as the main purpose of their lives, who by their very existence can bring change in students’ lives. Hats off, kudos and salutes to them.
IT IS NEEDLESS TO SAY THAT IT IS BECAUSE OF THESE GREAT TEACHERS-SAMARITANS THAT WE STILL BELIEVE IN OUR EDUCATION SYSTEM, TO SHAPE STUDENTS INTO GOOD-HUMAN BEINGS, CITIZENS OF OUR COUNTRY. IT IS THEY WHO ARE GOING TO BE THE FUTURE OF INDIA….
VIJAYASHREE RAMESH, ADVOCATE & SOCIAL ACTIVIST.