From empowering children with digital literacy to getting dropouts to return to school to spending their own money so children can buy uniforms — 319 teachers from across the country received the President’s Award for their contribution to nation-building. The Indian Express spoke to six of them.
Sandeep Karbhari Gund
Thirty-year-old Gund was the youngest of the lot to be awarded on Teachers’ Day. Speaking to The Indian Express, he said, “I teach at a small tribal school in Thane district, which had only one computer. Since the area does not have electricity, it used to run on solar power. After noticing that the children were fascinated with the computer, I realised technology will make them learn faster. Now, all 30 children in the school have tablets, and the school has gone paperless. All this was done through public contribution.”
Siang, Arunachal Pradesh
One of the two teachers from Arunachal Pradesh to be awarded on Tuesday, 48-year-old Perme has been teaching social studies at an upper primary school for the last 28 years. “I teach at a school in a remote district, where it is very difficult to even get children to school. Parents of most of the children do not understand the curriculam and are unable to provide support to their children. We are now trying to introduce them to the world of technology, but it is a huge challenge,” Perme said.
Suresh S Dharro
Fourty-year-old Dharro, who needs a crutch to walk, has been dedicatedly teaching slum children for the last 20 years. He said, “Parents of most of the children I teach are labourers. They cannot spend a lot. So I went around getting CSR funds. With the money we collected, we have introduced the concept of e-learning. More children have enrolled into the school because of this.”
Riyaz Ahmed Wani
Shopian, Jammu and Kashmir
Amid the violence that the area sees on a regular basis, 52-year-old Wani has been teaching all subjects at an upper primary school for the last 29 years. He said: “Providing quality education is our duty and we have been striving for it continuously. Given the way our state has become, safety and security of the children is what I am fighting for.”
Midnapore, West Bengal
Having to rely on crutches does not deter 50-year-old Maiti from teaching her students gymnastics. Maiti said, “When I first started teaching at the school, it had no uniform. With the Rs 3,000 I used to get as salary, I got uniforms made for the kids. Then I started teaching them gymnastics and folk dance because I believe extra-curricular activities are important.”
The second-in-command at Sarvodaya Kanhaiya Vidyalaya at Railway Vihar in Tughlakabad, Manisha, who has been working for the last 28 years, was given a special award for exemplary action during a gas leak behind the school premises in May this year. At least 300 students of the school had to be hospitalised following the leak at Tughlakabad depot.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Manisha said: “This award has come as a surprise. Though I am getting an award for my alertness during the leak, the depot remains a challenge for us even now and we live in a state of constant fear and threat because of it. In fact, we have been preparing for disaster management programmes in our school.”