For Bhajanpreet Kaur and Simranjit Kaur, both Class XII students of Shaheed Gurdas Ram Memorial Government Girls Senior Secondary School, Zira district Ferozepur, it was a dream come true when they recently took their first flight to their dream destination.
Both of them, hailing from humble backgrounds, got an opportunity to travel from Amritsar to Goa via plane. Their travel was exceptional, because it was their principal, Rakesh Sharma who paid for their air tickets, which he had promised for those students who made it to the state merit list to boost their morale and motivate them.
Four girls from the school made it to the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) merit list this year – two each from Class X and XII.
For both girls, it was an educational-cum-leisure tour, as they chose to go to Goa after Bhajanpreet’s project on “Deteriorating Soil Health due to Stubble Burning” was selected for INEX Expo-2022, organised by Goa State Innovation Council on November 18, and won bronze medal at Goa again. The other two students from Class X – Shital Sharma and Lakhvir Kaur – who had secured merit positions will be taking a flight to Delhi on December 25 for an educational trip.
We spoke to Principal Rakesh Sharma, the man who is bringing smiles on the faces of students who have got a new spirit of motivation to excel.
Walk us through your journey as an educationist.
My journey as an educationist started many years ago when I joined this pious profession as a primary teacher on 14 October 1998 at Mahian Wala Khurd then at Mahian wala Kalan. After being selected as direct headmaster in 2006, I worked in Mansoordeva from 14 December 2006 to 2014. After getting promoted as the principal in 2014, I served in GSSS, Behak Gujjran.
When did you join as the principal of Shaheed Gurdas Ram Memorial Government Senior Secondary School (Girls)? How has the experience been so far?
I was transferred to Shaheed Gurdas Ram Memorial Government Girls Senior Secondary School on 8 September 2019. In this prestigious institution, I had an awesome experience though it was quite challenging. When I joined the school in 2019, this school was on the 49th rank among 56 schools in Punjab, but with a lot of hard work, this school got the recognition as the best school in the district as well as in the state. Though my achievements in all my schools were tremendous, this school brought special laurels to me. We not only got recognition in the field of academics but in sports and other co-curricular activities also. In sports, we got 16 medals at the state level and were nominated for the National level also. We feel proud by declaring that one of our students Bhajanpreet Kaur got Bronze Medal at INEX Expo-2022, organised by Goa State Innovation Council. Our four students, two from 12th and two from 10th got merit positions which was a dream come true for a government school. My school got ‘Swachya Vidyalaya award’ thrice, which is one of the biggest rewards to me. Beyond my school responsibilities, I am also serving as DSM (District Smart school Mentor) as well as a member of the state core committee for smart schools.
What encouraged you to give wings to the meritorious students?
Three years ago when I joined as the principal of Shaheed Gurdas Ram Memorial Government Girls Senior Secondary School, I noticed that the students from this school were not securing merit positions in Class 10th and +2 board results. To boost their morale and motivate them to work hard for making it to the state merit list, I asked them the one wish I would fulfil if they make it to the merit list. With most of them coming from underprivileged or middle-class families, the students expressed their wish that they want ‘jahaaz da jhoota’ (air plane travel) if they pass their exams with flying colours. Then I promised to them that I would fulfil their wish if they make it to the state merit list. With God’s grace, their hard work bore fruit to them and our four students brought laurels to us by securing their names in the state merit list.
Tell us some of your memorable stories as a Principal?
Throughout my journey as a principal, I learnt something new each day, but some are the best experiences of my life as a principal which are unforgettable. Among those, the best moment was when I got a state award for my lifetime work, which gave me immense happiness, especially since this award was given to me without any nomination from my side.
One of my best experiences and feelings is seeing my school’s strength increase incredibly.
When I joined this school, in 2019, this school had 700 students and presently 1900 students are studying here. In the initial stage, It was quite challenging to convince those parents whose children were studying in private schools to give our government school a chance to serve their children, it was no doubt a herculean task but we got success in it. Initially, we started motivating them by giving them a one-month free trial in our government school and now those students from private schools are not just studying in our school but finding it as the best school in all aspects.
One of the finest and most memorable experiences to me is the honour given by Education Minister Sardar Harjot Singh Bains. He called me along with my student Bhajanpreet Kaur and our staff member Sukhdeep Singh at his residence and spent his valuable time with us like his family members and honoured all of us with a bouquet and gifts. That valuable discussion and quality time spent with our Education Minister means a lot to me.
What are some areas in the education sector that you would like to improvise?
No doubt that the Government is making immense efforts to take our education system to the zenith but I have some suggestions for the improvisation of education. In this global era, learning a foreign language has become a need of the hour, the government should provide maximum exposure to students to learn the same. Maximum educational apps to enhance students’ learning should be provided. Smartboard and Hitech technology should be installed in government schools to boost their morale and make them confident to compete at national and international level. Sports is a recreational activity which entertains as well as helps us to be fit and fine. Special attention should be given to sports to increase zeal in students towards sports activities.
One final message for our readers.
Work if you want to get, work hard if you want to get great, work very hard if you want to get extraordinary, but work extraordinarily and dispassionately that will fetch you nothing, you can only see the world rejoicing the revisit of spirit, though uncalled for, still reason to their belief that “the world is still beautiful.” It’s a humble suggestion from my side to all the respected parents and society members to keep away from the myth that government schools are only for underprivileged and middle-class people. Give us a chance to serve either on a trial basis, I assure you that you will never be disappointed. Let’s walk hand in hand to make-our country one of the best places to live in.