The school is again filled with the sound of children laughing.
The students of Sujata Academy came back after a long break due to COVID-19.
The school opened after a long break due to COVID-19. The state government allowed 50% of the students to come back to school, so a group of first, third, and fifth graders and another group of second, fourth, and sixth graders took turns coming to school every other day. Here is an update on students coming back to school.
Written by Bo-Gwang, JTS India
Children, who were all dressed differently, were in line following the teachers’ instructions. Tests showed that some first, second, and third graders had forgotten the Hindi and English alphabets. We teach the regular curriculum on one day, and on another day, we conduct a special class for basic education. The students have learned the national anthem of India, the Five Precepts, regular curriculum, and table manners.
There were physically weak students because they were not well-fed during the two years when they did not come to school. Some first graders were shorter than preschoolers. Some had very thin wrists, who said that they did not eat breakfast when I asked whether they had. The quality of life has been better, but there are still children who do not eat breakfast. At the beginning of class, a couple of students plopped down on the ground because they were too weak to remain standing. Some students went to Jivaka Hospital because they were dizzy or had an abscess.
We decided to provide an egg every day to the first and the second graders to enhance their health and encourage them to come to school every day. Since all of the children wanted an egg, we distributed eggs to the first and the second graders when the third graders were in class.
As the Jungto Society heard this story, it organized a campaign for two days to provide eggs for all of the students at Sujata Academy with the coming of Chuseok. Surprisingly, we received enough money to provide eggs to all students every day until next January. These days, the children have an egg for lunch every day. One day, I saw a girl put an egg in her pocket. Another girl did not have an egg on her plate as well. I asked where the egg was and found out that it was in her pocket. Would the egg be for her younger sibling at home?
As the school is in normal operation, we were busy preparing supplies. We provided uniforms and shoes for preschoolers to high schoolers. We measured the size of students to provide sweaters and shoes for the winter. All the students looked like princes and princesses with their new uniforms. They were happy with their new uniforms, which were a different color for each grade.
Every morning, children came running into the school. They put their bags in the classroom and ran to the playground. The fastest got the swing, and the others got the slide, the seesaw, and the merry-go-round. Ten to twenty students can use the merry-go-round at the same time.
The school is full of sounds now after a long silence due to COVID-19. When the school bell rings, students recite alphabets. The school is full of laughter and happiness as students are running on the playground and laughing during breaks.
As children ran on the playground, the trampled weeds became like a lawn. The weeds in the garden are now well trimmed thanks to the students’ work. Sujata Academy became beautiful again. During cleaning time, students sweep and mop classrooms, aisles, and bathrooms. Our school looks like a school again.
Bihar, India, where we live, has a population of about 100 million, but COVID-19 cases are less than 10 a day. It is not clear if this is because people are not tested, but everyone went back to normal without wearing masks. Sujata Academy is also operated normally.
Students are coming to the school with clean uniforms and neat hair. They put their hands together and greet, “Namaste, Sister!” We are glad that the children can study and eat at school again. Thanks to our supporters, Sujata Academy starts a new day with the sound of children laughing. Thank you.