Berhampur (Odisha), Sep 7: Four years ago, an upper primary school in Odisha's Ganjam district lacked basic infrastructure and students skipped their lessons every other day.
Cut to 2021, the student strength from classes 1-4 at Kanamana upper primary school in Chhatrapur block has increased from 50 to 107 with zero dropout rate.
The government-run institute owes this achievement to Ajit Kumar Sethy, its headmaster, who brought about a sea of transformation with his innovative teaching methods.
Sethy was among the 44 teachers from across the country and two from the state who were felicitated with the National Teachers Award by President Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday for their contributions in improving the quality of school education and enriching the lives of students.
"At the time of joining, I saw that the school lacked infrastructure. I worked on a plan to bring the students, most of them from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, back to the school," Sethy, who joined the institute in 2017, said.
With the involvement of villagers, the panchayat head and others, the school was electrified, a separate toilet complex for boys and girls was built, a water purifier was installed, and a nutritional garden on the school premises developed.
Sethy composed songs on chapters of the various subjects to keep the students in good spirits.
"Children showed keen interest in learning new topics when we taught them through songs," he said.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Sethy made videos on different subjects and made them available to the students over WhatsApp, YouTube as well as the Madhu App, which has been developed by the Ganjam district administration.
He also created awareness among students against child marriage, child labour through music.
In a tweet on Sunday, the education ministry described Sethy as an arts and music teacher who came up with innovative interdisciplinary learning styles by "using his musical instruments as 'prop' to help children understand abstract concepts in science, mathematics, geography, etc".
Sethy said he was happy to have got this award after only 13 years of service.
"It was a recognition of the hard work," he said, adding that the award would inspire him to strive harder to improve the lives of students.