“I’m a Batman” quipped Ranjit Mahato in a training session of Teach For Nepal (TFN), when he was asked to share something about himself. Ranjit not only broke the ice in the training session of the TFN, but also gave a new perspective about how a youth with a mission should see himself. Born in Sonigama VDC of Dhanusha district, Ranjit attended a village primary school, and later moved to Janakpur for secondary and higher secondary education. Thenafter, he completed his B.Tech in Electronics and Communication from NIT Jalandhar.
After B.Tech, he got a well-paid job in India, but there was an inner-calling which had higher value than any monetary value he could have gained by staying in India for the job like the rest of his colleagues. Subsequently, he left for Nepal.
Hailing from a village, he has firsthand experience of educational discrimination in Nepal. Implicitly, it can be claimed without any doubt that the quality of education in cities is better than the villages in Nepal. After returning, he was looking for some educational job, he came across TFN whose vision aligned with his. He applied for TFN’s fellowship, and thus began his journey towards eradication of educational discrimination in Nepal. Despite the initial disapproval from his family, he managed to convince them on his take up of the the TFN fellowship. An electronic and communication engineer, Ranjit, started his journey in educational sector from the TFNs’ fellowship and hasn’t stopped even though the fellowship has already ended.
Teaching is not a lucrative job in Nepal. An engineer, who can easily get better paying jobs would usually never settle for a teaching job. But this sweeping generalization would not apply to some exceptional cases like that of Ranjit’s. For him there are bigger things in life than monetary gain. According to him, his biggest achievement is the relation that he builds with his students and fellow teachers. He further says, “Even if I may not have changed the lives of all of my students, the 10 children that I have changed will change the lives of 100 others, who in turn will change the lives of 10,000, who in turn will change the lives of 1 lakh others, and the cycle will continue.”
Out of passion for teaching, Rajit does not limit himself to being a good tutor only in the classroom, “My day used to start with my students coming to my room to wake me up,” he shares with a smile. And, “.. ended with in evenings with a table tennis or cricket games with my students.”
Ranjit’s passion of teaching is not only limited to a classroom but rather he also mentors students outside of a classroom and serves as a guardian to the students. He says, “Bonding that I have had with students feel more like a guardian and his children, rather than a typical student-teacher relationship. They felt secure sharing their problems with me; they trusted me a lot and shared almost anything with me.” While teaching students mathematics in his village via the TFN fellowship, he focused not only on exams and marks, but on their long-term life skills.
In addition to helping students in classrooms and extracurricular activities, Ranjit helps them organize and encourages them to participate in competitions to become better leaders. “When my students wanted to play football, I got their team registered. Why do things only for fun when you can combine both competition and fun so that it can prepare you better for the ever increasing competitive world!”
His fellowship in TFN inspired him further towards a life goal of working in the educational sector. Ranjit solemnly says, “I really enjoyed the TFN fellowship and felt like I was making a significant contribution through my work, and it inspired me to continue working in the field of education.”
After his fellowship, Ranjit joined HELP (Helambu Education and Livelihood Partnership) as EQuIP (Education Quality Improvement Program) Development Officer to continue where he had left at the end of TFN’s fellowship. Based on his experience at TFN, he now focuses on developing a program to attain quality education in various remote schools. Ranjit is also involved in the selection process of students getting scholarship for higher education after SLC. This year, HELP has provided scholarship to some 73 students. In addition, Ranjit personally raised funds to help financially weak and good students from the school he was teaching previously. Currently, Ranjit is helping two students with full scholarship and few partial scholarship. He has further pledged to provide three more scholarship to students who are studying back in the village. He is hopeful that in forthcoming year, the number of students getting scholarship will increase and more students will be able to continue with their higher education.
Not all heros wear cape. Not all hero have a fan following but youths like Ranjit are the Batman of our society. They are not fighting crimes in any dramatic ways, but instead are taking our society towards the direction where crime organically dies out and no one is hurt.
“Even if I changed the life of one child, for me that is my success,” he states. “I can’t change everything, ma superhero ta hoina ni ta,” quips our Batman.