This National Award-Winning Odisha Teacher Made Science, Maths Fun For Tribal School Kids

**Bhubaneswar:** On September 5, Omprakash Mishra became the only teacher from Odisha among 45 teachers to win the national award for 2017 that was conferred by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, Mishra believes that the national award is not his biggest achievement. His greatest accomplishment is that he got to be a respected teacher who successfully influenced several young minds.

Born in the remote village of Kajuripada, Mishra worked hard and with sheer determination he completed his MSc, MEd and MPhil in tribal studies and even cleared the competitive UGC NET.

In 1998, Mishra got his first posting at Koraput’s Mathapada Govt high school, and was assigned two students as the entire school had a total of only 27 students.

“Young and undeterred, I adopted the two students in terms of all their requirements and under my guidance, the village got its first matriculate,” Mishra beamed.

His sustained efforts also helped increase the number of students in the school from 27 to 178. His students also got selected for the state level science exhibition, and became part of the national children’s science congress.

In 2006, Mishra was transferred to the Govt High School in Jeypore. It was there that Mishra realized, teachers in tribal areas struggled with teaching science because of lack of labs, apparatus, and equipment.

So he decided to make Science relatable for kids and penned down a book titled ‘Experimento’ in 2015, which helps teachers replicate science experiments in class for students with locally available and cheap resources.

“I believe that it is extremely important for kids to relate their day-to-day life with what they study. That is where Experimento saves the day,” he added.

He also wrote a practice book ‘Kinetics’ to help Class 8 students, whose parents have an annual income less than Rs 1.5 lakhs, in clearing the national means-cum-merit scholarship (NMMS) test. Those who clear the exam, get Rs 500 per month, which according to Mishra is a substantial sum for a tribal to alleviate his/her family’s socio-economic status.

Soon, he also realized that students in Class 8 and 9 lacked understanding of basic mathematical concepts like addition, subtraction, multiplication or division. “So, I co-authored Transit 1 for Class 8 and Transit 2 for Class 9, which helps students clear basic concepts during school hours, over a period of 60 days,” explained Mishra.

He also went on to kick-start the Prativa programme that helped students adopt study techniques, learn time and stress management, leadership skills and even emphasised the importance of good sleep schedules.

Speaking on the initiative, Mishra said, “There is no shortcut to success. Children should learn all aspects of knowledge and should strive to be successful in whatever filed they choose. It is imperative that even if you choose to become a shopkeeper, you should be great at it and do it with complete dedication.”

All of Mishra’s efforts were recognised in the district level in 2015 when he was felicitated with the best district teacher award. He also went on to win the best state teacher award in 2016. And finally, he received the national award from the Prime Minister this year.

Currently pursuing his PhD, Mishra serves as the Science Teacher of the Govt High school of Jeypore. He concluded by asking students to dream constantly and said, “If a teacher is dedicated and committed, then tribal children can go on to change the world. I believe a teacher needs to be just like a candle in order to reflect what Rabindranath Tagore had said- A candle cannot light another candle unless it continues to burn its own flame.”

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