Gurdaspur, Punjab: Diyanah from the National University of Singapore is surprised to see the Government High School in Veela Bajju village. The 22-year-old cannot comprehend how the school is functioning from such a dilapidated building, devoid of even basic infrastructure.
She is amazed to the difference between the way students get education back home and here in rural India.
Diyanah is a part of the 20-member students’ group from Singapore who are here to financially revamp the village school building. They are even offering help in the form of manual labour.
In India as part of an educational project under the aegis of Youth Sikh Association (YSA), a Singapore-based non-government organisation, the students are happy that their small help is going to make a big difference in the lives of schoolchildren here.
“We have brought 25,000 books on diverse subjects and will set up a library in the school. Apart from this, we are setting up a computer lab and a science lab. The building needs repair and with the help of locals, we will give a fresh coat of paint to the entire school, including doors and windows,” says Satwant Singh, vice-president of the YSA.
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The YSA had earlier brought students from Singapore for a similar project in Moga district. “The members of the group are volunteers, aiming not only to financially assist the school but physically too,” says Singh.
Huda Isah, another member of the group, says they will gain from the interaction with local students and by working on the project, realising the difficulties being faced here.
The students will also see the school take new shape over the next 15 days, says Durate, another member of the group.
“I am finding it interesting and would like to come again for the project if chosen as a volunteer,” she adds.
Installing backboards and repairing the broken doors and windows will be the priority of the group. “We chose the school after learning about it from our contacts here,” said the YSA vice-chief.
Nirlep Singh, a Punjab Police inspector who has been helping the group work on the school, says he provided details of the school to the NGO, as had been sought from him, following which the latter chose to help the school get infrastructure after clearance from the educational department and the village panchayat.
“Our school building had been in dire need of repairs and labs for a long time. We are happy that we are finally getting them,” says Navdeep Kaur, a local student.
The visiting students belong to various religions and ethnicities — Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs of Singaporean, Indian and even Chinese origin.
“I never thought a school can function like this. But coming here and working to revamp the school has been a very satisfying experience,” said Indpal, a member of the group.