Nanda Prusty is 100 plus, and has been teaching for 7 decades. He is now a Padma Shri awardee
Through the tradition of Chatisali, an informal form of school education that is still being kept alive, he teaches the children of his village Odia alphabets and a bit of mathematics.
He is fondly known as Nanda Mastre, and he has been a teacher for no less than seven decades. This is the story of Nanda Prusty from Odisha, who was recently awarded the Padma Shri. At 102 years, this is no easy feat.
"I am delighted at being chosen for the Padma Shri award. I did not know about it till a few reporters of some vernacular dailies told me about the honour. I had never imagined that the award will be bestowed on me," Nanda told The New Indian Express.
Nanda hails from Jajpur district of Odisha, and starts his classes at the break of dawn. Through the tradition of Chatisali, an informal form of school education that is still being kept alive, he teaches the children Odia alphabets and a bit of mathematics. Children attend till 9 am and then again from 4 pm to 6 pm. The elderly who never got a chance to attend school during their childhood are also students of Nanda. They reach his home in the evening at 6 pm to learn how to sign their names.
As a young child, Nanda was educated up to class 7, and his maternal uncle got him a job opportunity in Cuttack. However, his father disapproved, so Nanda stayed back and worked on his father’s farm.
Not one to be disheartened, he decided to help the students in his village free of cost, and taught many generations of students through the Chatisali.
“I would find children loafing around. They were all illiterate. Since I did not have much work, I started teaching them under a tree. There was no school then. Initially, I had to run after them, but soon they themselves started coming to the class,” he told Hindustan Times.
“I will continue teaching the children as long as my health permits,” concludes Nanda. Inspiring indeed.
Edited by Anju Narayanan