His friends laughed at him when Uttam Teron took it upon himself to educate his village. Ten years down the line, his tribal-dominated Pamohi village on the outskirts of Guwahati boasts of achieving a near 100% literacy.
In 2003, Teron (37) started a school Parijat Academy with just four students to realise his dream of 100% literacy for the children of Pamohi. Today, the school has 510 students from Pamohi and 11 neighbouring tribal villages. Parijat Academy is a non-profitable school for the underprivileged.
Its mission has been to provide free and quality education to children through ‘joyful learning’. “The people in my village are battered by poverty. Many of them would sell local brew to eke out a living. I saw children helping out their parents in the trade. So, I thought I should start a learning centre for these underprivileged children,” Teron, a science graduate and son of a retired railway locomotive pilot, told dna.
Pamohi has a population of around 2,000. Teron says 95% of the people in the village are literate today. In 2006, he launched a drive to educate women but had to give up midway as the women could not attend classes for several reasons.
Teron says his friends jeered at him when he told them about his plan to start a school for the underprivileged while his parents discouraged him fearing he was only spoiling his future. “I started the school in an unused cowshed with just Rs800.
It was a one-room thatched house with a pair of desk and bench and a blackboard. The turnaround, over the last few years, only bewilders me for I have never thought the school will grow to such stature,” he says.
The school, today, has 12 classrooms and classes up to Xth. It is semi-concretised and has a guest room and a dormitory that can house 15 students.
Teron pays Rs2,500 each to the 23 faculty members. He says donations received from well-wishers have kept the academy going.
He seeks donations through Facebook and e-mails.
‘Volunteers’ from Australia, US, Canada, UK, Germany, France, Switzerland, Malaysia and the Czech Republic visit the school regularly to impart vocational training in computer, stitching, knitting, weaving etc.