In a remote corner of the state, at Chamanpura village of Gopalganj district, a story is unfolding of unique enterprise and innovative methods in school education. This article has originally published in Times of India on Feb 3, 2011. Original article can be read here.
Situated about 30 km from Gopalganj, this school, known as Chaitanya Gurukul Public School, was founded in 2009 by an ex-IITian, Chandrakant Singh, now based in Bangalore.
Bereft of electricity till date, about 450 children, both boys and girls, are imparted lessons in physics, chemistry, mathematics and computer through Skype, video conferencing and Internet. Eight of Singh’s associates, sitting in various corners of the world, have joined hands to teach children right from Class I to Class VII, through video-conferencing. Apart from distance learning, 16 teachers, who reside on the campus, are helping the students in their studies. Here, teachers mark their attendance using a biometric finger-printer and students too log their attendance in computers.
The computers run on gensets owned by the school. Once computers were in place, the teaching did not have to wait. Pankaj Kumar of NTPC, a technocrat, teaches physics from Singrauli. Working with HAL, Sanjay Rai, an alumnus from BITS, Pilani, teaches chemistry from Korwa in UP, while M Vats, a US-based technocrat teachers math.
“With a view to providing world-class, technology-enabled education to the children of this backward village, where I was born and where I had my primary schooling, I set up this institution,” said Singh.
The push came when the Mahartashtra Navnirman Sena was attacking Bihari migrants in Mumbai. Singh then decided to do something immediately for his home town. “I was greatly disturbed, and wanted to arrest the migration of students from Bihar in my small way,” he said.
He then sought the advice of Surya Narayan, dean of IIT, Bombay, who was his teacher also. Narayan suggested him to make a plan for revenue-generating, self-sustaining model instead of taking the charity route. Singh then prepared a blueprint and e-mailed it to 3,000 friends, eight of whom agreed to fund it.
After the state government approved the proposal, the friends, who formed a trust, met the villagers and convinced them about the school. Within three months, they had 13 acres of land — from 100 villagers, who sold plots from 3 decimals to an acre in the area. Soon a big building started coming up, a part of which is still under construction.
With quality class rooms and campus, tuition fee starts from Rs 300 for Class I and is increased annually by Rs 100 as a child goes to a higher class. However, the school is run on self-sustaining basis, and not for profit. Chandrakant himself is doing his job, but takes classes through video-conferencing. Every year, one more class is sought to be opened at the school.