By Ankit Ojha and Arti M. Grover
Manohar Lal, a farmer from the Parsa Ka Bas village in the Alwar district of Rajasthan, has a family of seven members, which includes his four daughters and one son. He owns three bighas (1 bigha=0.619 acre) of farming land that serves as his primary source of income, with which other income, totals 5–6 lakhs per annum. Manohar actively participates in various social welfare activities in his village along with other villagers.
Manohar has a strong interest in education and involves himself actively in the Government Senior Secondary School in his village. Three of his daughters attend this school, and he is a member of the School Development and Monitoring Committee (SDMC). He understands the significance of education in securing a brighter future. However, the school faced several infrastructure challenges, including leaky roofs, sanitation, and drinking water issues, low student retention rates, and an unfavorable learning environment, which hindered the children’s education.
In response to a request from the school administration and local panchayat, S M Sehgal Foundation carried out the transformation of the school’s infrastructure in 2019–2020. The partnership resulted in a safe and conducive learning environment for students and teachers, turning the school into a focal point of interest for the community. Consequently, enrollment increased.
The work carried out by S M Sehgal Foundation greatly inspired Manohar. However, the school still had combined classes for different grades due to a shortage of classrooms. Recognizing this need, Manohar took the initiative to construct a new classroom, further enhancing the school’s renovation efforts and providing a healthy learning environment for the children. A typical classroom in a rural school caters to a class strength of forty children and helps provide safety and a conducive learning environment that fosters personal growth, enhances social skills, and expands future opportunities for students.
As a member of the SDMC, Manohar proposed constructing a new classroom for the children. He promptly took care of all the necessary formalities within the committee for approval. After the committee’s approval, he decided to initiate the construction of a classroom from his savings.
Manohar shares, “After my father’s demise, I wanted to honor his memory through a profound act. The entire community is traditionally invited to partake in food during the thirteenth-day ritual, known as Nukta, held by our village. However, as I recognized the urgent need for additional classrooms in our school, I made a conscious decision to allocate the funds designated for Nukta toward the construction of a much-needed classroom, contributing approximately six lakhs. This initiative not only benefits the students but also stands as a heartfelt tribute to the enduring legacy of my beloved father.”
Manohar’s generous act has become the talk of the village, inspiring many others to contribute toward improving the education of schoolchildren. His inspirational work exemplifies community stewardship that benefits the entire village, its students, and teachers. The improved classroom infrastructure will benefit more children in the years to come and serve as a learning hub for the next generation. The foundation team acknowledges Manohar’s invaluable contribution to student education.
(Ankit is the assistant program lead, Transform Lives one school at a time, and Arti is the senior manager, Public Relations at S M Sehgal Foundation)