Changing lives: Rajkiya Madhya Vidyalaya in Harmu. Picture by Hardeep Singh
What an idea Sirji!
Mentors of a state-run middle school in Harmu, 5km from capital Ranchi, have introduced a simple and unique reward system to discipline latecomers and ensure good attendance in classrooms.
Since Wednesday, the Rajkiya Madhya Vidyalaya — one of 56 state cradles in Ratu block — is offering each of its 400-odd students a punctuality coupon. Every child has to collect the maximum number of these paper tokens to become eligible for two special monthly draws for first, second and third prizes. There are consolation treats for others who too try hard and beat the clock.
Thursday saw immediate results.
As many as 122 students reached the campus at 10am sharp, junking their old habit of dragging themselves to school around 11.30am. A day earlier, before the motivational system was announced, barely 96 had been punctual. This month’s first draw on Thursday selected the three winners who will be rewarded on Saturday.
Chairman of the school’s education committee Gopal Prasad Soni said Class V student Anil Munda had won the first prize, a table clock. Babli Kumari of Class III and first grader Prerna Minz will take home pens as second and third prizes. The rest will relish toffees.
“It is an experiment to boost attendance and promote punctuality. Today (Friday), 151 children reached on time. The reward lucky draw will happen twice a month without prior notice. We may request other school committees to try the idea. It works and does not require additional funds. Committee members can manage with money from their own pocket,” Soni, an alumnus of the school, said.
On how the idea for incentives popped in their mind, Soni said it was by chance.
“All we were initially targeting was timely distribution of midday meal. If children came late, the cook had a problem with headcount and food was served late. We wanted to do away with that practice. In our attempt to do so, we planned the coupon system. It is working great for timely and regular attendance too,” he smiled.
Fifth grader Sanjay Gari didn’t get lucky on Thursday, but the 10-year-old couldn’t help beaming over the prospect of a win in the near future.
“Main hamesha samay par aata tha jabki mera dost-log deri se. Kal hum khush huye jab mera dost Anil ko samay par aane ke liye prize ke liye chuna gaya. Agar aisa hota raha, toh hamein bhi ek din (prize) milega. (I am always punctual, my friends were not. Yesterday, I was happy when one of my class fellows, Anil Munda, was selected for the punctuality prize. If the reward system continues, I too will win someday),” he said.
Para-teacher Mohammed Irshad lauded the unusual concept. “Students are happy and motivated. And that is when they can concentrate in their studies better,” he said.
Principal of Rajkiyakrit Madhya Vidyalaya, Tharpakhna, Emela Toppo too welcomed the idea. “So far, we tried to boost attendance in schools by talking to parents and making them understand the need for education. Introducing small rewards like these is definitely worth a try,” she said.
Should small rewards be compulsory in all schools?