| Arvind Kumar Singh monitors the literacy programme at Mahadalit Tola on Sunday night. Picture by Sanjay Choudhary |
Patna, Sept. 9: Light, for Jyoti Kumari, has only been a dhibri (wick lamp) for years. But Kaimur district magistrate Arvind Kumar Singh changed the definition.
Last night, Jyoti, a hearing and speech impaired Class V student of a government primary school, was surprised to find Singh at her hut in Bare village in Bhabua block, 200km southeast of Patna. In the diminishing light of dhibri — a known source of light for power-starved villages like Bare — she could only make out Singh was asking her some questions.
“It was around 7.15pm when a beacon-fitted vehicle stopped at the gate of my thatched house. Before I could realise anything, a man in his 50s alighted from it and asked about my children,” Jyoti’s father Sachchidanand said. To his utter surprise, the man introduced himself as the district collector of Kaimur, one of the 23 Maoist-hit districts of the state.
The Kaimur district administration recently launched Ratri Siksha Prahari (education messenger at night) to help school students belonging to the economically backward and the Mahadalit communities in the 11 blocks of the district study better after sundown. It was Jyoti’s house where Singh entered first for a surprise inspection of the programme — a one of its kind in the state.
Sachchidand took Singh to the room where Jyoti was studying in dhibri light. Sitting on a cot, Singh asked a few maths questions to her. Jyoti answered all questions using gesture. Impressed, Singh made his way towards the door. Singh, who took over as district magistrate about six months ago, visited Jyoti’s neighbour Jiya’s house in Bare village, around 8km north of Babhua, the headquarters of Kaimur. Also a student of Class V, Jiya (11), was seen studying under a lantern.
Under the scheme, sources said, a team of 103 teachers have been formed to lend support to “relatively weak” students of government-run schools in Kaimur, which shares its border with Uttar Pradesh. The teachers, known as Ratri Siksha Prahari, visit nearby villages voluntarily to ensure that the students studied at their homes in the evenings regularly.
“I wanted to check the quality of education being imparted to the students. Such an exercise would also motivate the parents of those students, who are good at studies. No doubt, some students are good. But most of them need additional support,” said Singh, who reached his office on foot to reduce fuel consumption at government offices.
The primary school at Bare village, on Bhabua-Mohania road, is likely to be declared a model school of the district.
“I have appealed the local residents to cooperate with the district administration in declaring the school as a model one,” he said.
Singh stayed at the village, which has 300 houses, till 9.30pm and held a chaupal to listen to the villagers’ problems. “I have decided to release funds for the village’s development under the centrally sponsored Integrated Action Plan,” he said, adding that lantern sets would also be provided to the students so that they could study at night.