Moved By Shivering Children, Government Officer Renovates Schools With Her Own Salary

Every day in the news, we come across incidences where officers are persecuted for their negligence in their respective fields. Seldom do we get to hear that an officer on duty has done something more than he or she was supposed to do. Geetika Joshi Pandey, however, is one of those very few whose deed stands out from the rest owing to the sheer selflessness exhibited in the act.

Usual Day, Unusual Sight

 It seemed like a normal day for Geetika, a Deputy Education Officer, as she was on her usual inspection rounds in Uttarakhand’s Almora district. After inspecting many of the district’s relatively well-built school, she chanced upon a dilapidated school in Tarikhet block of the district.

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She noticed that one of the school’s classrooms had a leak in the ceiling through which rainwater seeped in. This resulted in dampening of the classroom so much that the children were shivering in cold. The sight of those helpless children moved Geetika so much that she decided to not only fix the roof but to also to renovate the entire school building, all with her own salary.

“School was in shabby condition and when I saw the children, I felt them like my own children. I immediately decided that I will get the roof repaired with my own salary. Later, I renovated the entire building with own money,” said Geetika, who joined at the deputy education officer in the Tarikhet block in March, 2015.

Taking Massive Action

Once the decrepit school was renovated, she didn’t stop there. With the co-operation of the teachers, she took up the responsibility to fix other such dilapidated buildings in the hilly area. She surprisingly received quite an overwhelming response as the teachers contributed Rs 2.5 lakh for renovation work that would equip the schools with the required infrastructure. They also decided to provide sweaters for children from underprivileged families so that the children could concentrate on their studies in the chilly mountainous area of Uttarakhand.

In the meanwhile, IAS officer Himanshu Khurana took charge as the joint magistrate in Ranikhet in October 2017. Upon inspecting the various schools in their vicinity and learning about their transformation under Geetika, he realized that the project had much more potential in it.

Together, Geetika and Himanshu launched a scheme called Roopantaran meant for the transformation of government schools. A bank account was also opened in Ranikhet to seek monetary cooperation from people. With the money, they started to provide necessary infrastructure, uniform, teaching material, better quality of education and even smart class equipment that is seen usually in private schools.

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Impressed with the vision of the project, Ranikhet MLA Karan Singh Mahra sanctioned Rs 23 lakh from his MLA Fund for the noble cause. Former district magistrate Eva Ashish Srivastava also sanctioned around Rs 12 lakh. Even the present district magistrate Nitin Bhadoriya is also supporting the cause because of the difference it has brought to the lives of so many school children.

Bringing Smiles All Around

Kamlesh Giri Goswami, the head mistress of Government Primary School at Garee, exclaimed, “Our primary school, after transformation, is not less (than) any private school in term of infrastructure and quality education! It has also instilled confidence in our children.”

Till date, over 43 schools in Ranikhet and 14 schools in other areas of Almora district have been transformed successfully. This is also steadily helping in increasing the strength of the schools regarding enrolments.

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It isn’t everyday that we see a government officer bring about a radical change in a short span of time. And when one does, it is indeed inspiring to see how deep the impact of providing basic amenities goes. Those children who couldn’t even imagine a day in school without shivering are now enjoying the comfort of infrastructure as well as state-of-the-art education, all thanks to Geetika and Himanshu.

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