In Chhattisgarh’s insurgency-hit Kanker district, children in over 100 government schools, which are suffering from a lack of teachers, are now learning basic mathematics through an innovative method of video lectures in Hindi. The brainchild of Kanker collector Shammi Abidi, the video lecture database titled “Setu” (bridge) is currently being used for running a remedial course in mathematics for Class 9 students and for weekly training of primary and middle school maths teachers who do not have the subject background.
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The district falls in the under-developed Bastar region where government schools suffer tremendously from lack of teachers. To add to the woes, skilled teachers from outside are reluctant to come to the conflict-ridden zone and locals lack the training.
Understanding the problems it posed for future generations, Abidi took it upon herself to do something to change the situation.
“The remedial course for maths is being run in more than 100 high schools where a significant improvement has been observed in the learning level of the students,” she claimed.
“Such an initiative in a systematic and effective manner is being taken arguably for the first time in Hindi medium government schools of the country,” the IAS officer said.
The course was started in the current academic session and shall be completed by the middle of this month, she said. “Video lectures were developed with the help of screen-casting technology, similar to the technique used in video lectures of an internationally known academy,” she said.
The Bastar region faces a problem of lack of teachers, particularly for mathematics and science.
However, after the ‘Vidya Mitan’ project was launched by the government, the problem was solved to a great extent but interior pockets are still devoid of teachers, she said.
The video lectures concept was introduced to address the problem so that students from these areas could get some kind of guidance, she said.
On how the method was conceptualised, Abidi said that during a review exercise in December last year, they came to know that the students of Classes 9 and 10 are unable to carry out basic mathematical calculations.
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Lack of skill was also found to be a factor as a large number of maths teachers at the primary and upper primary level are from the arts background.
According to a DISE (District Information System for Education) report 2015-16, there are 188 upper primary schools in Kanker where mathematics is being taught by teachers who graduated in arts subjects. “This has a direct effect on the learning levels of students,” the collector said.
It was realised that to improve learning, video lectures could be of great use. A lecture database which covers mathematical concepts in Hindi was not available in the market. Hence, it was decided to develop these videos indigenously, she said.
The database consists of 63 videos and each spanning 30 minutes. All are scrutinised by maths teachers of senior classes in schools. It covers basic mathematical concepts ranging from those taught in Classes 3 to 8, including number system, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, equation, percentage, proportion, etc.
Besides, the database will help students solve numerical questions which are asked in subjects such as economics, physics, chemistry, biology and geography.
The schools are supposed to screen Setu videos with the help of a TV/projector and hard disk, according to a time table set on a daily basis for Class 9 students. Active involvement of the teacher while screening the video lectures is a must. At the end of every lecture there is a set of questions for self-assessment, Abidi said.
Similarly, training of primary and middle school maths teachers has been arranged at cluster level, she said, adding that so far 538 teachers have been trained.
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To assess the impact of video lectures, a sampling of Girrhola high school and Chawadi high school of Charama block was done. The data shows that there has been a significant improvement is learning levels via Setu, she said.
These lectures have been uploaded on YouTube so as to benefit students of the Hindi belt. The videos can be accessed by searching ‘Setu Chhattisgarh’ on YouTube, she said. A similar project named ‘Pragya’ is also being run by Kanker district administration to tackle the problem of shortage of science, mathematics and English teachers in high/higher secondary schools of the district.
The project has been replicated both inside and outside the state. Setu and Pragya differ in the technology used, the target segment and their purposes, Abidi added.
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