Home » News » India » The fragrance of Parijat Academy: Reclaiming Education in Assam Amid Pandemic
4-MIN READ

The fragrance of Parijat Academy: Reclaiming Education in Assam Amid Pandemic

Parijat Academy campus. (News18 Assam)

Parijat Academy campus. (News18 Assam)

Founder, Uttam Teron, who is in his forties is a staunch supporter of education and believes it is the birthright of every child and no child – rich or poor – should be left behind.

Post-lunch on one of the hottest days of August in Guwahati, Assam, Uttam Terron decided to give us a tour of Parijat- the school of his dreams. This unique school on the outskirts of Guwahati has been shut since March after pandemic triggered a nation-wide lockdown, albeit there were a few students moving around who greeted us with a warm smile.

Founder, Uttam Teron, who is in his forties is a staunch supporter of education and believes it is the birthright of every child and no child – rich or poor – should be left behind.

RELATED NEWS

“There are around 35 students in the boarding now. Their houses are deep inside the adjoining Garbhanga reserve forest and they need to walk for more than five hours to reach their villages. Moreover, these students are pursuing their higher studies and need internet facilities for filling up their exam e-forms and to attend their digital classes and I have a Wi-Fi connection,” said Uttam Terron. The hostel at Parijat Academy provides free accommodation to almost 60 students, he added.

By the time we reached the school premise the rapid antigen test for Covid-19 conducted by the district administration was over and Uttam’s family tested negative for the deadly virus. In the past few days, Guwahati has emerged as a Covid-19 hotspot.

Moving around the campus with Terron, one does not need much time to gather how the school manages its finances as the donors are mentioned on every wall of the school.

Form Sekhar Subramanian, USA to Goodwill Globetrotting, a fundraising group from the states to Lordsai.com to Asha for Education Seattle and Elise Lindhergh who came forward to construct the girl’s dormitory, Parijat blooms with love and affection of these philanthropists and many more across continents. Asha Foundation from the USA looks after twelve teachers of the school on a six months basis, stated Terron.

“Since the inception of Pandemic, the regular funds have dried up. Organisations and individuals have not been able to send their contributions owing to various constraints. We get aid of seventy to eighty thousand rupees every month in the form of donations and grants from the NGOs and individuals within the country and abroad with which the school functions. To run the school where education is totally free I need Rs 1,50,000 every month. I have somehow managed to pay the March dues to the teachers but for the last five months my hands are tied, I am worried about them” said Terron.

I want to begin with a project where individuals or organizations can adopt teachers for a certain period. One or couple of them so that education in Parijat continues and these students who come from backward pockets of the society can mould themselves for a better future added Terron.

As of now, Parijat Academy is run by 23 teachers who travel scores of kilometres to impart knowledge. Describing the salaries, Terron said, teachers for the lower classes get Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,000 as their monthly honorarium and those of the higher classes get Rs 7,000- Rs 9,000. I know they get way less and they deserve Rs 15,000- Rs 20,000 but this is all I am able to give at this moment.

What started with four tribal students in a cowshed with Rs 800 in 2003, today it is an accomplished educational institution catering to the basic needs of over 500 students mostly from the villages where access to schools is very limited.

Terron began his philanthropic journey after he saved Rs 800 and bought a pair of desks and benches for the students. The school which began with students enrolling in Nursery class, today, it has students till Class 10.

Every student needs to learn life skills so that they can face the future being more skilled and confident, children at Parijat are encouraged to develop the positive qualities of loving, kindness, compassion and universal responsibility. The extraordinary curriculum at Parijat also includes carpentry, pottery, basics of electrical work, basket making and handicrafts as mandatory subjects.

Talking about the mid-day meal scheme for the students, Terron added, “No we do not have mid-day meals on a daily basis. However, we do have once a week when the donors come ahead with the supply. Otherwise, for the kids below the age of six, we provide a glass of hot milk and biscuits every morning.”

The current situation amid the pandemic has landed Uttam at a tight spot as managing the easiest tasks has become difficult.

Expanding the school premises, Terror with the advice and necessary financial assistance from a person in Mumbai has started a weaving centre in the school building. Here, there are around 12 looms in the centre where tribal women are trained to weave and they are planning to open up a showroom where the products can be exhibited.

Terron also plans to incorporate Parijat Academy in the tourist circuit of Guwahati where foreign and local tourists who come to visit Deepor Beel, the bird sanctuary beside the school and Bhimashankar the 12th Jyotirlinga can come to visit the weaving centre. At this centre, the famous Assam Silk is woven and the tourist can also get first-hand knowledge in educating the tribal kids at the school.

The academy is visited by teaching interns from across the world who are mostly university students, where they come and stay with the students to teach them and in a way to get enriched. They also help in getting the much needed fund for the school as per capacity, informed Terron.

Now, Terron is planning to reopen school beginning with Class 10 and intends to distribute the students in different sections of ten students in each. After the August 15 sanitization process, as per state government’s order, the school will reopen from September 1. Academy covers nine tribal villages namely Pamohi, Mahguapra, Deosutal, Garchuk, Mainakhorong, Dhalbama, Nowagaon, Garoghuli and Garbhanga.