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How a village with a penchant for teaching became Gujarat's guru gram
Bharat Yagnik|Skillages – How a village with a penchant for teaching became Gujarat’s guru gram| Jul 04 2017 : The Times of India (Delhi)
Hadiyol, Gujarat: In a country where most parents want their children to become engineers, doctors and high-flying corporate executives, a self-assured village 90 km from Ahmedabad prides itself in producing teachers. In Hadiyol, one in every four persons is either a teacher or has taught in the past. And its penchant for pedagogy has justifiably earned it the sobriquet “Teachers' Village.“
Located about seven km from Himmatnagar, the headquarters of Sabarkantha district, Hadiyol has more than 700 active and 200 retired teachers. It is said one can find at least one teacher from Hadiyol in each of Gujarat's 33 districts. At least 15 families have 10 or more members who have taught in schools over three generations, each of which can fill up any decent-sized staffroom in a school.
Hadiyol's romance with the blackboard started over five decades ago.Back in the early 1950s, the village wasn't a prolific teacher-producing centre.“When I enrolled in a Primary Teachers Certificate (PTC) course, there were about 25 teachers in the village,“ remembers Hirabhai Patel, 88, one of the oldest teachers in Hadiyol. He began his career after passing Class 7, the eligibility criteria to become a teacher those days! Nine members of Hirabhai's family are teachers today.
Land-holding patterns were changing at the time and communities such as Patidars, traditionally associated with farming, were looking for other vocations. In 1959, a Gandhian couple, Govind Raval, a native of Hadiyol, and his wife Sumtiben, opened a school to teach local chil dren “Nai Taleem“, based on Gandhi an principles.
The school, Vishwamangalam-An era, was situated in Akodara village, about 1.5 km from Hadiyol. A PTC College for women was added to the school in 1962. That proved to be a game changer. “After studying till Class V at the village primary school, boys and girls would attend Vish wamangalam,“ says Rameshchandra Patel, 60, a teacher for 35 years.
There were few other career op portunities available for women in those days. “Scores of women started enrolling in the PTC course after ma triculation (equivalent to the SSC),“ Rameshchandra recalls. Ten of his family members are associated with the field of education.
The trend had a twin effect “Edu cated women pushed for better educa tion for children. And qualified wom en forced men to catch up to improve their marriage prospects,“ he says.
In that era, a teacher's job was eas ily available provided one earned the PTC. Karshan Patel, 62, said that prefer ence for teaching was driv en by the fact that the job paid well and commanded respect in society. “Till the 1990s, even board exam toppers dreamt of pursuing the PTC. There were few industries back then and little scope for a steady job other than farming,“ Karshan said.
He said that many were also lured by the advantage of being able to live close to the village. At the Hadiyol government school, eight of 11 teach ers are local residents. The school is one of the adarsh shalas (model schools) of the district, and boasts of many teachers feted by the state gov ernment with Best Teacher award.
Archana Patel, 35, said, “In my batch of 50 at the PTC college, 23 students were from Hadiyol. I have grown up idolising teachers and it was a natural choice for me.“
Her husband and brother-in-law are also teachers.
The concentration of gurus has a bearing on the village's character.Village sarpanch Alpit Nayi points out that Hadiyol seldom records any crime. Most people shun liquor and tobacco. “There are many instances of families supporting the education of farm labourers' kids. Villagers are also acutely aware of matters compared to those in nearby villages. It is wonderful that the village is now known across the state through our teachers,“ he said.
However, winds of change have been blowing over Hadiyol in the past five years. In and around the village, one can see hoardings promoting coaching classes for Gujarat Public Service Commission (GPSC) exams.The subtle shift can be attributed to changing state policies. The government now hires a majority of teachers as `shiksha sahayak' and pays them only a fixed salary of Rs 5,500 per month. A majority of them receive a permanent appointment only after five years of service.
That explains GPSC's lure.Durgesh Patel, the government primary school principal, said the success of more than 20 aspirants has motivated many to go to cities such as Ahmedabad and prepare for the entrance exams. “Even so, teaching has remained an ingrained aspiration with 10-15 students passing out from PTC colleges every year,“ he said.
Durgesh Patel's thoughts are echoed at Vishwamangalam-Anera PTC College where the enrollment for 2017 has begun. While over 60% seats in PTC colleges across Gujarat lie vacant, more than 150 applications have been received for 60 seats there.A good number of applicants are from Hadiyol.
The “Teachers' Village“ has no intention of throwing away the chalk and duster.