Teachers’ Day 2020: Teachers who went an extra mile to educate students amidst lockdown

Bridging the great Indian digital divide


September 5, 2020

/ By / New Delhi

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teacher day 2020

Government school teachers in Jharkhand are playing a pivotal role to ensure children have daily access to digital education during Covid-19 lockdown

September 5, 2020 marks the 58th Teachers’ Day in India. While the lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted classroom education, thousands of teachers across the country have ensured that their students’ learning process is not interrupted at any cost.

As with any other country across the world, education system in India has also shifted from classroom to the four walls of home. Instead of focusing on the blackboard, the students now have to focus on screens. However, the shift to digital learning has robbed millions of students of their basic right to education. Not everyone has the means to afford laptops, tablets and even smartphones to be able to pursue digital education.

Being a developing and second most populated country in the world, India has become the third worst Covid-19 effected country. Amid the healthcare and economic collapse, almost 40 pc of school going children across the country have been denied education owing to the lockdowns and safety concerns.

Most of the teachers have rapidly made themselves familiar with digital education in order to be sure that they do all that is needed to teach students online. However, there are a few teachers who stand out for the lengths to which they have gone to be sure that none of their students is left behind due to the lack of access to online learning.

On the occasion of 58th Teachers’ Day, Media India Group spoke to some of these teachers who deserve a special mention for their efforts to keep students connected to education despite the ongoing crisis.

Recently, Pune, the education and manufacturing hub of western state of  Maharashtra, earned the dubious title of the city with most Covid-19 infections. Yet, teachers in Shirur, a small town barely 68 km from the city, try to retain the reading habit among students despite the ensuing lockdowns and closure of schools and libraries.

The teachers of Wablewadi  Zila Parishad school in Shirur have been distributing books from the school library to students who live nearby and ask them to finish reading and rotate books amongst each other. The teachers have been even going door to door to make sure that students are not cut off from reading.

The Zila Parishad school had started its online classes from July 1 but soon realised that education doesn’t only mean curriculum but a holistic development of a kid’s personality. Thus, to ensure that the reading habit stays imbibed in the students and coronavirus doesn’t hurdle their learning, the teachers launched the library movement.

“Students have worked very hard to learn basics of English language and they are likely to forget everything and will have to restart from scratch if they don’t get to read. Most of them can’t afford smartphones or read online. We take the risk of travelling and carry loads of books door to door just to ensure that their hard work doesn’t go in vain during the pandemic,” Sandhya Pradhan, an English teacher of the school, tells Media India Group.

Another silver lining in the dark clouds of the digital divide comes from the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand. Government school teachers in Jharkhand are playing a pivotal role to ensure children have daily access to digital education during the Covid-19 lockdown.

As smartphone accessibility problem prevails in many parts of Jharkhand, a number of students do not have access to digital content sent by the state government and Jharkhand Council of Education Research and Training (JCERT). However, the teachers are walking that extra mile to ensure education reaches every doorstep.

Teachers of Middle School Dhatkidih in the East Singhbhum district, about 185 km south of Jharkhand’s capital Ranchi, have made various WhatsApp groups to disseminate information. Five teachers of the school visit households every day to demonstrate the use of the digital links and e-learning content on smartphones and call students at random to ensure they have watched the day’s lesson.

“Smartphones are a problem in rural areas. Around 30-40 pc of students do not have smartphones. Our teachers have visited families who could help neighbourhood children by sharing their smartphones. Most of the villagers know each other. Thus, there are many families who share their phones so that more than a child can access the lessons at the same time,” says Sajid Ahmed, a teacher of the school.

In Seraikela-Kharswan district, about 42 km west of industrial township of Jamshedpur in Jharkhand itself, Sandhya Pradhan, headmistress of Uchcha Vidyalaya, Adityapur, has sought special permission from the district administration to open her school for a couple of hours so that students of class  11th and  12th could access the digital content at the school’s smart board.

“A smartphone is something that many students in government schools still dream of. So, I took permission to use the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) from the district administration for two hours. We got an overwhelming response from students, especially girls,” Pradhan tells Media India Group. Pradhan adds that the students ensured that they followed physical distancing and wore masks.

Two teachers of Primary School, Bhadudih district, about 110 km southeast of Ranchi, also visit students’ houses to share digital content.

“Teachers visit various students, solve their problems and clarify their doubts. Most of the villagers believe that smartphones are for entertainment. In fact, they never thought that the gadget could be used for education. We have been counselling parents too. All we want is that education should remain a right for children and not turn into a privilege in any circumstance,” sums up Arun Kumar Singh, headmaster of Primary School in Bhadudih.



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