While scores of students lost their lives in the Malin tragedy that struck last year, a new lesson in Class V of the state board textbooks hopes to teach a few life lessons to students on what to do during natural calamities.
Introduced this academic session, the chapter on Malin landslide that killed 151 villagers has been incorporated in the Marathi language textbook of Class V in the state board’s Marathi-medium schools. It begins with snapshots of newspaper clippings that gives information about the landslide, followed by a list of objective questions like the season in which the landslide took place, the agencies that reached the spot for rescue operations, what difficulties were faced in rescue ops and which agency came forward with announcement of relief for villagers.
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The important aspect of the chapter is that it encourages students to go beyond the textbook by assigning project work to them. Students are told to research the reasons for a landslide, what kind of problems survivors face after a landslide and in what ways can one help disaster-struck areas.
However, the change has only been brought in the books in Marathi-medium schools and no such chapter has been introduced in English-medium schools.
“The chapter has been designed by the syllabus committee consisting subject matter experts who felt the need to add this contemporary event, while revising the syllabus. We do not dictate to the committee what they should include or exclude and hence cannot say when and if this will make it to books in English-medium schools,” said C Borkar, director of Balbharati that prints the books.
Meanwhile, he added that in the Marathi medium books that introduced the chapter, there are some interesting exercises like activity-based projects. “Students have to collect information on natural disasters that took place in their neighbouring area and what steps were taken to resolve the situation, and take help of teachers to research past calamities like the Killari earthquake,” he said. Students have also been asked to differentiate between man-made and natural calamities, besides maintaining a book where they should cut and paste newspaper reports on natural calamities and disasters.
Though the inclusion of the new chapter has been welcomed by Marathi-medium schools and principals, they aren’t quite satisfied by the joint teachers training provided by SCERT and Balbharati.
“The chapter barely has any information besides some newspaper clippings which is also just headlines in some cases. There is no theory to go by and it is entirely activity-based. Hence, it is expected that they would share some tips on how to go about it,” said a senior Marathi teacher.
The same complaint was raised by Archana Jambhorkar, principal of Vidya Vikas Vidyalaya in Sahakar Nagar. “Our teachers said there was no training on what kind of projects/ activities needed to be undertaken. So, each school and teacher will devise their own way of gathering material and teaching the subject. There is unlikely to be any uniformity,” she said.
While commenting on the complaint raised by schools, Borkar said teachers had past experience of activity-based learning and training in new curriculum, and they needn’t be spoon fed on teaching devices. “It is expected that each teacher will implement their own creativity in tackling the subject,” Borkar said.