Hemlata Upadhayay, a teacher from Himachal Pradesh, was conferred with the Nelson Mandela Sadbhavna Award and Certificate of Excellence 2017 at Mauritius for the contribution she has made towards education in rural areas, especially towards education of girls.
Professor Dhanjay Jhurry, vice-chancellor of Mauritius University, in the presence of Mr Akash Gupta, secretary High Commission of India, Mauritius on 24th July, handed the international award to Ms Upadhayay.
Hailing from Mandi district, Hemlata joined the teaching profession in 1984 with her fist posting at a village called Bagshad, in the interiors or Karsog sub-division in Mandi district.
The village was not even connected by road then, recalls Hemlata, and the boys and girls were reluctant to join school as they preferred to work in their fields.
Being a hilly region, much of Bagshad population, made a living on subsistence agriculture and needed more hands to work on the marginal farms there.
The young teacher made a lot of efforts by talking to the families and breaking age-old mindset in getting the parents to send boys and more so, the girls to school to get an education.
Having made a breakthrough at Bagshad, Hemlata later was able to convince the families in Janjehali and Batheri belt, when she served in schools at these remote hilly regions of Mandi district.
“Seeing the boys and girls do well, making a livelihood because of the education they have received is best reward that a teacher can get,” she says.
Hemlata Upadhayay was one of the 14 Indians (the only one from Himachal) who were recognised as ‘You Are Our Hero’ and conferred the 2017 excellence award. Presently she is working as the principal of Baryara Senior Secondary School, Mandi.