Engineer who brought education to tribal areas

6 Sep 2013

Brij Chawla, originally from Islamabad, came to India during Partition. The child, now a 74-year-old man, had then pledged to be part of the country's progress in a bid to establish his own identity.

In 1993, Chawla visited Badhua village in Ghatshila, then in Bihar, as a sightseer and found that many tribal villages did not have drinking water facility, electricity or school.

"On further enquiry, I found that around 8 crore tribals across the country do not get basic amenities and the only way to bring them into mainstream was to educate them. It was then that the idea of educating tribals came to me," said Chawla, who started teaching 50 tribal children in a village in Ghatshila in 1999.

Now, more than 3,000 tribal children from different villages around Ghatshila now come to him for education. All thanks to the Art of Living society, which helped Chawla, an engineer from Delhi, set up a school here.

Chawla came to India with his family after partition and completed his graduation in electrical engineering from a college in Delhi in 1960. After graduation, Chawla joined work as an engineer in the then Calcutta.

At present, there is a teachers' training centre at Hinduljori village, where more than 100 teachers have taken training till date. "We have one teacher for one class and the ratio between teachers and students is 1:30," he said.

"I always wanted to work for the society so I left my job at the age of 47 and joined the Art of Living Society. We got a few local matriculate boys to teach at the school and even though they were not very good as teachers they did bring students to school," told Chawla to TOI.

In the next three-four years, he set up nine schools in villages around Ghatshila and at present there are 14 schools, including secondary and high schools in with more than 3000 students.

Chawla belives that just educating children up to Class XII is not sufficient as that would add to unemployment.

"We will soon be opening a technical training centre in the same premises as our high school and the construction of the building is almost over. The plan is that students from Class VIII and above will attend four hours of classes and two to three hours of workshop where they would be trained in animal husbandry and plumbing, which will fetch them around Rs 7000 to Rs 10,000 every month," he said.

Courtesy:The Times of India