Pavan Mishra, who singlehandedly runs a government school in Bhopal — playing teacher, mentor, manager cook and peon in the course of 24 hours.
The 40-year-old heaves himself up the stairs with a stick and smiles as his class of 22 wishes him.
The primary school — in Bal Vihar in the Walled City — has five classes and once had 150 students but over the years, the number of teachers dwindled, and so did the pupils. But Mishra soldiers on.
The only ‘handicap’ that this polio-affected teacher has ever felt in his life is the lack of colleagues.
For three years, he has been running the school on his own.
He prepares lesson plans for five classes, corrects papers, takes care of administrative tasks that seem without end and serves midday meals. And he even ferries students to school on his trusty moped. If he sees a student absent for more than a day, he lands up at his or her home to find out what’s wrong.
The school used to have four teachers but the government never replaced those who retired or got promoted and moved on. Mishra was always passed up for promotion. He doesn’t mind that as much as the fact that he doesn’t have an Urdu teacher. Sixty per cent of his students study Urdu.
The Right to Education Act makes it mandatory to appoint trained teachers for every subject. “A guest teacher for Urdu was sent here this year but his tenure ended in April.
Every year Mishra writes to the authorities to appoint at least one teacher but in vain. District education officer D K Sharma said that guest teachers can be appointed but only after it’s cleared by the higher authorities.
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