72-year-old Ramachandra Bhol, fondly called Rama Sir by his students and locals, contracted polio in childhood which left him paralysed from waist down.
A resident of Baradanga village under Mahakalpada block of Odisha’s Kendrapara district, Bhol cannot walk and crawls to move from one place to another. However, his disability never came in the way of his life’s mission.
Bhol has been running a ‘Chatasali’ at his house for the last 58 years and has produced many students who are now successfully placed at respectable positions and highly-paid jobs and professions. The Chatasali is the only means of the differently-abled teacher’s livelihood.
Chatasali roughly means home tuition which existed predominantly in rural Odisha. However, with the advent of schools and colleges in almost every village, the traditional practice is on the verge of extinction.
Bhol could study only till Class 7 due to financial constraints, but his passion and fondness to teach the tiny tots made him a successful teacher. He started teaching students at the Chatasali when he was just about 14 years old. He would accept whatever the parents of his students offered him as fees and even gave free tuitions to children who were financially weak.
“Words will fall short to express the feelings when I teach my students. My students are in the US, UK and other foreign countries and are engaged in highly paid jobs and living an esteemed life. They are my family and I am proud of them,” said Bhol.
Bibhuti Bhusan Rout, a former student from Rama Sir’s stable, said, “I joined Sir’s Chatsali when I was a small child and he has taught me till Class 10. It was because of his guidance and encouragement I could become an Engineer. I am proud of him.”
At present, not only children from Baradanga village but those from nearby villages too have joined Bhol’s Chatasali to take tuitions.
“I study at Rama Sir’s Chatasali. He has a different method of teaching and I like the way he teaches. This is despite the fact that Sir cannot walk and have to crawl to teach us,” said a student of Bhol, Pragyasini Pradhan.
Another student, Kartabya Pradhan said, “He teaches students from Class 1 to 10. His method of teaching is so famous that students from distant villages come to him for coaching. He even provides free lessons to financially weak students.”