Devbala Bisht: The Lady at the Helm

Himalayan Inter College (HIC), located in the tea garden village of Chaukori, is a school that the Himalayan Education Foundation works closely with to bring quality education to the remote areas of the Himalayas. HIC offers courses from kindergarten to 12th grade for about 900 students.

 

Heading the institution is Devbala Bisht, the energetic and dynamic principal who believes her mission in life is to educate, and thus empower, the younger generation that will take care of their hill communities and the Himalayan ecosystem. 

 

Let’s hear about her long journey with HIC in her own words.

 

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Greetings from Himalayan Inter College!

 

I was born in Berinag near my native place Chaokori and several months later my parents moved to Nainital, the famous hill station, from where I did my schooling. Both my parents were teachers by profession and thanks to their busy work schedules I learned to handle responsibilities at a relatively young age.

 

When I was about nine years old my father and I decided to stay for a few days in our native village and for the first time in my life I became aware of the lack of education facilities in rural and remote hill areas. Children did not have access to formal educational resources and were not even aware of what a school is. It was then that I decided to become a teacher.

 

 

In 1999 I began teaching in the makeshift school started by my father in Chaukori village on a donated plot of land which housed a cowshed. Initially we started with two students and I was the only teacher! In the beginning we had to personally approach the parents and go from door to door to persuade them to send their children to the school.

 

To relocate to a village from Nainital and run a school with minimum resources was hard but I took it as a challenge. We had to start from scratch but once we had started, there was no looking back. Over the years the primary school attracted many students from near and far and ultimately grew into the present inter college.

 

The immense love and affection that I received from students and the encouragement and dedicated service of the school staff contributed to the school’s success. In our long journey, Mr. B.S.Papola has been with us throughout and conscientiously worked hard as the vice principal for the welfare of the school.

 

Mr. Prakash Karki, my younger brother who is a teacher and also the present administrator of the college has been a pillar of strength to our institution. His ideas and innovative use of technologies transformed the practice and method of teaching as well as improving the students’ learning processes. I am also grateful to HIC’s extended family of volunteers from different parts of the world who helped us in our growth with their time and experience.

 

Here I must tell you about our association and collaboration with the Himalayan Education Foundation (HEF) in our long journey. HEF closely worked with our school as part of their mission to bring quality education to the rural Himalayan region. At a community level, they have worked for women’s empowerment through initiatives like income generation and nutrition which have greatly contributed to the school’s holistic development as well. 

 

I am extremely thankful to the organization for scholarship programs and infrastructure development. Their sustained emphasis and special funding for girls education attracted many girl students to our school, who otherwise would not have continued their studies. The funds generated by their volunteers have ensured the smooth functioning of the school. It has definitely played a crucial role in turning our dreams into a reality.

 

The school has been maintaining an excellent academic and co-curricular record for the past 10 years. It has received the prestigious Deen Dayal Upadyaya state award presented for academic excellence in Board classes of 10th and 12th in the year 2012. HIC stood first among all schools in the entire state of Uttarakhand. And since then our school has been receiving the award every year for being in the top 10 schools of excellence. In sports too our students have won various prizes at the district and state level. 

 

Honestly speaking, the kids keep surprising me with their various talents and high calibre performance. It is heartening to see their accomplishments and we at HIC are proud of their achievements.

 

The staff has grown in strength over the years and now we have a committed and dedicated team of teachers who are always supportive and have helped the school in becoming what it is today. The support staff has always been devoted to the school and a great help throughout. It’s one big HIC family to which we all feel a sense of belonging and connection.

 

The teaching- learning experience is not restricted to the classrooms but has become much broader and deeper. There is a book reading club, a group discussion forum and other avenues where children have the opportunity to explore the world outside the traditional academic setting. Teachers are constantly looking for new and creative ways to make the classes more interactive and fun. Children are encouraged to spend time in the library and read books and magazines of their choice.

 

 

I wish every child who comes to HIC would make use of the available resources effectively to become a responsible citizen and most importantly to develop into a good human being. Our motive in establishing the school was to reach out to the children and equip them with knowledge and skills for their personal and community growth.

 

Most of the children belong to far flung mountain villages and adequate hostel facilities need to be provided to them. The school has been working on this and we are trying our best to accommodate as many students as we can on the campus. We are also providing employment opportunities at our school for about 250 local people as well as planning a sustainable development program in the sensitive Himalayan ecosystem.

 

My journey as the principal of HIC has been a roller coaster ride. It has definitely been an exciting and fruitful experience where I myself have grown personally and evolved professionally over the years. This is the place where I have celebrated my success and learnt from my failures.

 

I believe young girls should always stand up for their rights and have strong faith in their abilities. All of them have the potential to bring about wonders and can contribute to making this world a better place to live in.

 

My recreational activities include spending quality time with my family especially with my son as my hectic work schedule scarcely allows me to do so. I love cooking various Indian delicacies, gardening, painting and going out for nature walks. I practice Yoga and meditation as the work gets on my nerves and I tend to get a bit cranky otherwise! 

Thank you for your interest in learning about my life journey with HIC. Good luck! 

 

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Let’s wish Devbala Bisht, the principal of the Himalayan Inter College success in her adventures in education and empowerment.