From working professionals to young students and children, the Covid-19 pandemic has been difficult for everyone. The closings and subsequent closures of schools and institutions of higher education have affected the learning process of many students. However, teachers continued to make efforts to minimize academic loss. In the process of doing so, many across the country and the world have come up with unique initiatives to help students continue their education.
Here are some of them:
Hand-painted walls as a learning tool-
G. Kalavathi, the only teacher at Mandal Parishad Primary School in Telangana in Pochamma Gadda Tanda village in Mahabubnagar district, was concerned that students would forget essentials amid the pandemic.
“Elementary students were unable to participate in online classes, largely due to a lack of digital infrastructure. So I personally went and painted the walls of students’ homes with the required basics. There are many students who do not they live in pucca homes, therefore “There were no walls to paint. For them, I arranged the floppy diagrams. Since the students couldn’t go to school, we decided to bring the school to the students, “said the 42-year-old teacher.
Since proper boards weren’t affordable, Calafate bought small, portable boards that could be placed on tables, chairs, and even stairs. Some children also brought chairs from the school to the places where these blackboards were placed. “I also prepared Teaching and Learning Materials (TLMs) and worksheets, which were made available for students to practice the concepts,” she added.
Outdoor Classes in Kashmir-
Schools and educational institutes in Kashmir have been closed since the repeal of Article 370 on August 5, 2019. The closure has continued the spread of the coronavirus. With internet lines cut and educational institutions closed, students in the Kashmir Valley have not been able to keep up with their educational needs.
For these students, the engineer-turned-teacher in Srinagar Muneer Alam decided to hold classes outdoors in the city. In 1999, while studying for an engineering course, Alam missed an academic year due to the Kargil War. This is what prompted him to work in the education sector because he did not want any other child to face the same problem. He has taught more than 25,000 J&K students for competitive exams and meetings, some for a fee and many for free. At first, I invited the students to my house but it was not possible to accommodate all of them. I didn’t want students to miss an academic year so I started doing free outdoor lessons in Eidgah, Srinagar. With only a small number of students initially, the outdoor classes are beginning to attract many from remote areas. I started taking lessons at 4:30 in the morning and continued until dawn. “The students brought their own chairs and sat about four meters apart to maintain social distancing,” said Alam, who graduated from the Regional School of Engineering, now the National Institute of Technology (NIT) in Srinagar.
He claims to have received two threatening letters in August 2019 for handling his classroom, but nothing could contaminate his soul. “Education is the only way these students can achieve a better life for themselves,” said Alam, who was nominated for the 2021 Global Teacher Award by the Varkey Foundation.
Community participation –
Since teachers could not allow students to come to schools and could not even reach all students, some decided to take advantage of local human resources in the villages.
In the Kalahandi district of Odisha, Naveen Kumar Saraf decided to recruit volunteers to teach the students in the village. Saraf is an assistant teacher at the Nandgaun Government Secondary School, located 78 km from the district headquarters in Dharamgarh district.
“In the middle of the pandemic, it was difficult for the students to keep up with their studies. I contacted some university students in the village to volunteer because they were also taking online classes in the middle of the pandemic and had some free time. At first they were all worried about what they would get out and one volunteer only signed up for one. Later, the evening classes caused a stir in the community and more volunteers started calling me themselves. We had a total of 12 volunteers who taught about 10 -15 students in different parts of town.
He added that there are many challenges, but the children and volunteers did not lose heart to continue studying. “At times, the heavy rains in Kalahandi prevented volunteers from teaching outdoor lessons. Also, everyone was afraid of contracting the virus. But the university students decided to solve these problems with the support of other community members and teachers,” said Saraf, who He believes that the active support of the community is required to strengthen the educational system.