Shaheed Hemu Kalani Sarvodaya Boys School, Lajpat Nagar is one of schools that has witnessed a metamorphosis in the last 3-4 years. Shaheed Hemu Kalani was one of youngest freedom fighters who participated in Quit India movement and was killed by British raj before he completed 20 years.
In this school, old, dilapidated buildings have changed to renovated structures with proper flooring and nice furniture. The school has a lot of greenery and trees and a nice playground. It now looks like any good school that parents would be happy to send their kids.
Besides visible improvement in infrastructure, the school has also been active in enabling children to develop their talents and skills. I was told the story of two boys who were mostly absent and hardly attended any classes. They lived in the nearby basti that had a cluster of jhuggis. The family earned their livelihood by making large size stuffed toys – horses, elephants, camels etc. and the children helped by selling the same at traffic signals.
When this was found by the school authorities, instead of punishing the boys for not attending the school, they had a novel idea. It was agreed that the boys would come to school and make these stuffed toys and they will be allowed to sell it. They also agreed in turn to teach interested children how to make these toys and attend classes.
Unsurprisingly, this win-win initiative not only helped these boys to complete their studies but also helped in developing budding artistic talents in the school. Now this kind of teaching-learning and talent/skill development has been institutionalized and children and teacher learn from one another.
It was a treat to visit the arts lab! One could see the making of the stuffed toys in its various stages. The students have also made a number of drawings, paintings, collages, sculptures etc. Now the school has become known as ‘Ghodewala’ school to many people for the most popular stuffed toy made by its students is the horse.
While we were in the drawing lab, there were melodious sounds from the next door. To our raised eyebrows, the answer was – music room. The school has full-fledged music room. Both music room and arts lab encourage multi-grade learning and interaction. Our curiosity took us to the music room and within no time, a small group assembled and treated us to some lovely bhajans sung by the students.
It was heartening to see the deep interest, care and pride of the school authorities including head of the school and the teachers who have encouraged innovative and entrepreneurial thinking and actively support students to develop their talents.
Enlightened educators believe that education is not limited to books and academics but is about all round development of children. It is heartening see that some schools do believe in it.