The Padampani School is situated in Sevabigha village which is seven kilometres far from the world heritage site of Mahabodhi Mahavihar, Bodhagaya. It was established in the year 2014 and it runs on donations by locals and a group of Koreans who visited the school in 2018. Along with books and stationery, the school provides free tuition to students.Situated in the famous tourist place of Bihar- Bodhgaya, it has kept a unique concept to keep the city clean.
It is interesting to know that instead of tuition fees, this school asks students to pick up waste on their way to school and deposit the total collected waste in the dustbins.These bins are placed outside the school campus, which is sent for recycling process later on. Apart from this, one more unique characteristic of this school is that it also teaches its student to value the environment, save groundwater and practice cleanliness.
It was started with the children of rag pickers who belongs to the Mahadalit community. Families of these children were convinced to send their kids to the school. To persuade them, volunteers of the NGO Socio-Educational Foundation regularly visited that village.
“Gradually children started getting enrolled in the school. We provided them with uniforms, books and midday meal,” said Manoranjan Kumar, coordinator of the Foundation.
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“We have 250 students enrolled, from the primary section to class eight. All our students are from Mahadalit or OBC families who cannot afford to send their children to school. Our main aim is to keep the area around the world heritage site clean, as lakhs of tourists from all over the world arrive every year. Our approach has been working and you will not find a single piece of waste lying around the school campus or outside,” said the Principal, Meera Mehta, in an interview given to Hindustan Times.
Students are instructed to not to leave even a single piece of waste on the road on their way to school. Moreover, many students from the school also contribute to cleanliness and water management in their villages.
“ We not only exert our efforts to keep the environment clean and green but also continue to create awareness among the villagers to work towards saving the environment,’’ said Prince a class eight student of the Padampani School, Bodhgaya.
The aim behind the concept of collecting waste as school fees is to inculcate a sense of responsibility among children so that they could take the climate change seriously and are not ignorant of the impact of global warming and environmental hazards, Mrs Mehta added.
The school aims to keep areas around the world heritage site of the Mahabodhi temple, Bodhgaya clean and waste-free. It was Started with 50 students and now it has over 250 students enrolled. Initially, the donations were arranged by locals, but in 2018, some Korean tourists visited the School and were impressed with the initiatives and came forward to donate money to the school on a regular basis. The money is used to develop the infrastructure as well as classroom facilities. We should appreciate and promote such eco- friendly initiatives around us and be part of it.
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