In Satsama High School there is a silence. But it’s a good one because it means that all the students are in their classes studying.
In late November 2012 Community Correspondent Mamata Patra made a video on the lack of teachers in the Satsama High School in Sambhalpur district Odisha. Four teachers were appointed soon after as a direct result of that video. After two years of studying without teachers, the children can finally get down to some proper studying.
Mamata recollects the happenings of the last 5 months and tells us how she achieved her first impact in a phone interview:
"Soon after I came back from the training I started talking to people about the issues in the neighbouring area. A relative of mine pointed me in the direction of the Satsama high school. When he said there is a teacher shortage I thought they might be one or two hands short, I never imagined that there wouldn't be a single teacher on the school grounds.
Children from 5000 families across 7 to 8 villages depend on this single government primary and high school for their education. It used to be a secondary school that taught till the 8th grade. In 2008, the education department upgraded it to a higher secondary but no teachers were appointed to teach grades 8 to 10.
I went and spoke to a few of the students. All seemed agitated that no proper teaching took place. I particularly remember talking to Bise Patra, one of the 10th graders due to appear for his Board Examinations. There was this eagerness in him, a light in his big eyes, to do something great with his life. He had moved away from his parents so that he could attend the school. Very nervous about his upcoming exams, he feared the worst—failing.
This video was the first I had ever made. I could see all the training sessions about cameras and interviews swirling around in my brain. The time was here; I was about to jump into the world of being a community correspondent.
It took a few visits to get all the elements of my video. I travelled 5 kilometres to get to the school (which was an entirely different adventure since I’m not used to travelling alone). The students while very eloquent about their problems would become shy in front of the camera. I was able to eventually get the interviews.
With the video out of the way, I started talking to parents and trying to contact officials who would be able to take action on the matter at hand. I wanted to get in touch with the Circle Officer who would be in charge of recruiting the teachers.
After multiple attempts I was able to get contact him. In late January I got a phone call to tell me that 4 teachers had been appointed. At first I was a little sceptical. I thought that I was being told this just so that I’d go away and not bother them.
When I met those teachers in person, I realised for the first time the potential of my little video camera. I have worked in the development sector now for about 20 years (since 1994!) and very often I got the feeling that I was working for people with their own agenda. But now I can articulate the people’s actual needs and make the change happen.
That there are now 4 teachers in the Satsama High School because of a video I made gives me immense confidence to carry on my work as a Community Correspondent. Watch out I’ll be making many more impact videos. Till then, thank you for watching.”
Many applications later, hundreds of people continue to suffer.
Formal applications to get new beds have been sent thrice to the local administration. But the situation hasn't changed.