The spirit of ASER in the field is unmatched. For all those who think it is just a survey, need to visit the field when volunteers from far flung areas travel long hours on local transport to reach the village they have to survey, to check the learning levels of children of their districts and to gauge the enrollment in schools – such is the force of ASER.
For the ASER 2015 cycle, along with many other districts, I had the chance to visit Jhang. I left from home early morning and saw the dawn in the car while traveling to the listed villages. I was in my first government school in ‘LakBaddar’ at 9:30 am when I met ‘Razia and Rashida’ – two girls in their late twenties covered in burka. I inquired about the status of their survey and checked their forms on the spot to rectify if there were any errors and moved on to observe the school facilities. The school was in a critical condition – there was only one room and the two teachers. Students were sitting on rugs in the veranda and as soon as they saw me approaching starting reading their text loudly. They greeted me as I approached their class. Children were nicely dressed and almost all of them had their textbooks. They seemed happy to be studying. Out of curiosity I asked a child to read from his textbook and he read the entire poem fluently. I was impressed as he was just a grade 2 child. I appreciated the teacher for her efforts and time because the children were learning well.
Amna, the teacher, gave the class a 5 minute break and started to tell me that if I had visited the school just a couple of months ago, the situation would have been very different. She was teaching in the school from the past two years but was never able to get results or even children to attend school regularly. She pointed towards the head teacher and told that she joined six months ago and has put in remarkable hard work in the school. She elaborated that the head teacherstays late after school to organizethe next day’s class plan, she visits houses after school convincing the parents of children who are not enrolled in school, she often visits the head of the village to request for funds for school to provide books and uniform to children free of cost and it is because of her dedication that parents started sending their children to school.
“It is not that I am a good teacher. It is because the head teacher has maintained such a friendly environment in the school that children love coming here. She is like a mentor to all of them. She gives extra time to the children who need it. She plays with them during breaks. She tells them stories while teaching which makes it interesting for the children and they concentrate more than usual”, said Najma, the teacher who accepted that even her own teaching style has been inspired by the head teacher of the school.
I appreciated the efforts of the head teacher in maintaining such a wonderful school where children are eager to learn despite not even having the basic facility to sit on chairs and tables. It is truly the leadership skills, hardwork and dedication to one’s job that sets one apart from others. The school looked like a broken building with no furniture but had shinning stars as students and much to my surprise – happy shinning stars!
The experience changed my perspective about our education system – it is not the infrastructure that completes the education system but the way a teacher inspires and encourages students is what makes or breaks our education system.