Written by 12:11 Asian Stories

Back To School

I am a primary school teacher. Do you know that even teachers attend classes from time to time? We become students and learn from senior teachers!

In one such class, I met a senior teacher, Mrs. Sasikala. She was a kind person and was a good teacher. She was part of the Municipal Department that looked after education. Her job was to ensure that every kid in her locality would attend school. She was our favorite teacher in the training sessions.

That’s why we were disappointed when she didn’t come to take our class for a couple of days. Then, much to our relief, she started taking our class again. She explained her absence — she told us she had gone in search of her missing students. “What missing students?” we all asked. Mrs. Sasikala then told us what she had been doing for the last two days.

“We try our very best to get all children to attend school. These children come from poor backgrounds. When a child is absent for more than three to four days, I visit their place to see what’s the problem,” said Mrs. Sasikala.

“This time two children stopped coming to my school. They were children of construction workers. I visited the construction site and learned that some of the workers had moved to another construction site far away. The supervisor told me where to find them. So, I took a bus to that construction site far away. I found the parents of my missing students.”

“I was shocked to see my students working at the construction site, carrying bricks on their heads. I asked the parents why they had stopped sending their children to school.”

“Madam, we go where our work takes us. If we don’t work, we won’t have enough money to buy food. Now that we work here, how can we send the children to a school that is so far away?” the mother said.

“I told them I could find a school nearby. The next day, I took the children to the nearest Municipal School and got them admission there. Now the children are back in school,” Mrs. Sasikala finished her story with a smile.

We were all relieved to hear that those children were back in school. We felt very proud of our teacher who took so much trouble to get those children back to school.

Soon, the training session was completed. I went back to school. On my return, I found one of my students had stopped attending school. She came from a slum across the railway track. That evening I found myself crossing the railway track, on my way to the slum, in search of my missing student.

Based on a first-person account narrated by Usha Char, a former school teacher.

Story: Subba Rao | Illustration: Kaustuv Brahmachari