The National Educational Policy (NEP) 2020 has highlighted what the pandemic has shown us-teachers, and educators, are the true heroes, devising various strategies and designs to make sure learning reaches those across all levels in India, even the grassroots.
UNESCO reported that around 2.7 million teachers who were impacted by the pandemic, faced challenges while handling the new teaching-learning requirements. Despite the odds against them, educators across the Indian educational landscape have grappled with challenges the lockdown has brought and have come out on top, doing their best to significantly impact the lives of their students by making sure their learning continues. Today, let’s meet some of these inspirational educators:
#1: Anganwadi Workers Across States – The lockdown due to the COVID pandemic saw countless anganwadi centres temporarily closing their doors, and all their charges staying put inside their homes. That didn’t stop these amazing volunteers, who have been soldiering on since the beginning of the pandemic, hand-delivering educational material and involving parents in the learning process.
- In Odisha, the Department of Women and Child Development in collaboration with UNICEF launched the ‘Ghare Ghare Arunima’ initiative in April. The anganwadi workers focused on the males in each household, to ingrain equal child responsibility, reducing the gender divide, and increasing family bonding in this time of adversity.
- The ‘Aakar’ initiative was introduced across Maharashtra and saw an incredible amount of father-led participation. Everyday learning activities are shared with parents over Whatsapp; anganwadi workers explain the details in person to those who don’t have digital access.
- The state of Chhattisgarh has come up with the ‘Sajag’ initiative, where a short audio message about specific learning tasks is delivered directly to the parents’ inboxes or explained in person by anganwadi workers.
#2: Jeyaishwari R Nadar – Another example of a teacher’s dedication is Ms. Nadar, a mathematics teacher at the Gandhi Memorial English High School in Matunga, Mumbai. Her inventive teaching style went viral on social media after a journalist picked up this story in June 2020. Ms. Nadar was pictured conducting a class with the mobile phone on a refrigerator tray, which in turn was balanced on two containers. She came up with this idea when, as a math teacher, she realised she needed her students to simultaneously see the board while she took online classes. While she had tried whiteboards and other tools to teach, she found this particular technique makes it easier for her to broadcast notes.
#3: Shyam Kishore Singh – A headmaster of a school in Jharkhand’s Dumka district, Mr. Singh saw how many of his students faced learning challenges since the lockdown commenced because they lacked access to smartphones. He came up with an innovative way to keep their lessons going-by April 16, he had put up several loudspeakers across Bankathi village, where his Upgraded Middle School is located, to make sure his students heard him teach. These speakers have been put up on trees and walls in different locations across the village, with high volume speakers present where the number of students is more.
Dumka’s district education officer Poonam Kumari lauded this effort, adding that all 2,317 government schools in that region should emulate this model.
#4: Sonia Relia – While many educators are reaching out to their charges and students to prevent a learning loss, others are focusing on developing new-age skills in their peers and colleagues, through professional development courses. Among those ranks is author and teacher trainer Ms. Relia, who shares professional tips and advice with her fellow educators, through webinars and other online methods. She also regularly conducts storytelling sessions and fun activity-based talks with parents, teachers, and kids, to enhance the homebound teaching-learning experience.
Square Panda would like to appreciate the efforts of teacher Ranjitsinh Disale, who has been innovating teaching and learning long before the pandemic forced students into virtual classrooms.
Ranjitsinh Disale, a teacher from the Solapur district of Maharashtra, beat out 12,000 teachers from 140 countries around the world to win the Global Teacher Award this year, which is awarded by the London-based Varkey Foundation. His contribution towards the field of education-he supports girls’ education, he has contributed towards building coded QR textbooks, and he puts in efforts to generate interest about education among children from rural areas-won him a prize worth Rs. 7 crore. The first Indian to win this award, Ms. Disale says he will share 50% of his winnings with the other 9 finalists for the award, to support their incredible work and thereby provide quality education to thousands of children in 9 countries.
These visionaries are setting a strong example, collaborating with other stakeholders in the educational process—volunteers, edtech companies like Square Panda, parents, and children themselves—to garner results. These novel approaches exhibit how educators’ dedication can transform education and professional development in revolutionary ways.