Schools shut, Gujarat municipal teachers hold classes in parks, bridge digital divide


CLASS 8 has assembled for his or her English grammar lesson. Not in their classroom, not on display, however in an open park in the Naranpura space of Ahmedabad.

The white board is propped up on a concrete bench, dealing with a bunch of round 15 kids, all from the Naranpura Hindi-medium faculty run by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC). A gaggle of aged regulars on the park pause to look at the kids and their trainer at work. Some distance away, a bunch of bhajan singers periodically strike discordant notes — about the one time the kids search for from their books.

In one other nook of the backyard, Usha Rajput, the Class 6 arithmetic trainer of the identical faculty, is instructing ‘sides and angles’.

The open classes are a part of the Gujarat training division’s sheri shikshan (avenue training) initiative that was launched in the final week of June for kids who had been unnoticed of the digital studying programme. With the pandemic forcing faculties shut since final 12 months, teachers at the moment are holding classes for smaller teams in open areas — in public parks and in temple complexes.

Ruchika Shah, Class 8 trainer of Naranpura Hindi-medium School Number 3, says that whereas the programme was initially meant for many who had bother logging in to their digital classes as a consequence of lack of units or connectivity, the response has been encouraging with many extra kids becoming a member of in.

“For over an hour every day, all of us teachers go to different areas and teach children enrolled in our school. So it’s just like regular school, except that the children are not confined to a room or a building. The classes are only for lower primary (Classes 3-5) and upper primary (Classes 6-8) students. Around 75 per cent of my class attends these classes,” she says.

While the federal government on Thursday resumed faculty for Class 12 with 50 per cent capability, it plans to take action for Classes September 11 quickly.

Ashok Tungaria is among the many 13-year-olds sitting for the English class on the Naranpura park. “When the classes were being held online, I could barely understand anything that was being taught because our chawl is usually very noisy… I couldn’t see anything on the screen either. The phone network also gave me trouble,” says Ashok, who’s from a household of migrants from Nagaur district in Rajasthan. His father works as a cobbler, normally from house.

Mahavir Singhariya, Ashok’s classmate and neighbour in the chawl, says, “I don’t have a mobile phone at home. Only my elder brother has one. So these classes are very useful.”

Despite the early success of the programme, it wasn’t initially straightforward to persuade mother and father to ship their kids to review in locations apart from their faculty, says Shah. “Some of the parents were hesitant, especially parents of girls, who weren’t sure about sending their daughters to study in a public space. But they gradually realised their children are in safe hands,” she says.

Nearly a kilometre away, Nayna Sapra and Rashmita Patel, decrease major teachers of Naranpura Municipal School Number 4, are instructing kids of Classes 3-5 in a small temple on the entrance of the slum space.

After a fast recap of addition to a mixture of Class 3-5 college students, they distribute worksheets to the scholars. “Along with these assignments here, we also give them homework. Since these are small children, it is difficult for them to understand or complete their assignments on the phone,” says Sapra.

Talking concerning the programme, Malati Patel, principal of the Vadaj Gujarati Medium Municipal Boys School, practically 4 km from the Naranpura faculty, says, “While some of the parents did not have smart phones, many of those who did took them to work. So a lot of them ended up missing the online classes. Though keeping this in mind, we did conduct online classes at night during the last academic session, children are happier with this sheri shikshan concept.”

Patel says her teachers have recognized six areas in the varsity’s neighborhood for the sheri shikshan programme to focus on the 380 kids who’re enrolled in the varsity’s decrease major and higher major classes.

“Initially, we taught students inside the chawl in Mangal Porshottam slum, from where most of our children came, but since it was very noisy, parents themselves suggested that we hold classes in this temple,” says Vibhaben Rathod of the Vadaj faculty.

Sitting on a bench below the shade of a tree, ready for classes to wind up on the open floor adjoining the Vadaj temple, Parvati Ravat, whose twin boys are in Class 6 on the Vadaj faculty, says, “We have only one smartphone, which their father takes to work. So the boys could not study at home. I am glad about this arrangement, where children don’t have to miss school and we don’t have to worry about Covid.”

Talking concerning the success of the programme, Education Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama advised The Indian Express, “With Covid cases on a steep decline, the government decided to start this initiative of sheri shikshan where teachers reach out to children and teach them in a safe environment. With such a positive response from parents, teachers and students, I have ordered the department to ensure this mode of teaching is conducted across the state.”


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