Not every household of Janan, a remote village, part of Khadir bet near Pakistan border in Bhachau taluka of Kutch district with a population of around 1034 people, has a television or a smart mobile phone. Even those who have a smart phone face difficulty in accessing the internet due to the geographical location of the village.
However, 151 students of Janan Prathmik Shala from classes I to VIII have been getting their daily study material and lessons provided by the state education department through social media during the lockdown imposed in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.
Every morning, Ghanshyam Brahmin, a primary school teacher, goes to the village panchayat office. After setting up the public announcement system and keeping the day’s study material ready, he puts his mobile phone on the mike and plays it for the students on the announcement system 9 am till 1 pm.
Under the Gujarat Council of Educational Research and Training’s (GCERT’s) ‘Parivar no maalo-salamat ane humfaalo (family’s nest-safe and warm)’ programme, launched on April 1, education material including stories, songs, physical and mental activities are shared among students through social media.
“When the village children could not access the literature sent by GCERT to keep them in touch with their studies during the lockdown, the idea of using panchayat’s public announcement system came to my mind. After obtaining permission from the panchayat and villagers I experimented it. But when a few parents called me up to thank for the initiative, I started doing it daily,” Ghanshyam Brahmin said.
The public announcement system covers the entire village and is generally used in case of any emergency. Ghanshyam also shares the state government’s guidelines on the COVID-19 pandemic through the announcement system.
A few months short of his retirement, 57-year-old Ghanshyam has been teaching at the school for the last 37 years. Known as ‘Ghanshyam Guru’ most of the villagers were his students.
His initiative was also shared recently by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) in a series of tweets attached with a video.
“During a routine feedback from our teachers, especially in the remotest areas, on the use of study material, Ghanshyam Brahmin shared this with us. During a conversation with the CBSE chairman (Anita Karwal) I happened to mention this initiative to her and she asked me to share more details on it,” said GCERT Director T S Joshi.
“This public announcement system was installed with the help of Border Area Development Programme grant of Rs 3 lakh three years back. Along with this, closed circuit television cameras were also installed. Since then these have really been very useful, especially during the lockdown,” Narendra Gadhvi, Bhachau taluka panchayat member, said.
Ghanshyam has now started taking feedback from the students.
“Ghanshyambhai called up today and asked to let him speak with my children. He asked them about their favourite stories and songs,” Bharatdan Gadhvi, one of the villagers said.
After four hours of daily teaching through the public announcement system, he keeps a guard at the CCTV control room that has been set up at the panchayat office itself.
“He checks if there is any violation of the lockdown or if the villagers are maintaining social distancing. If there is any, he immediately announces it through the mike. Since he knows everyone by name he ask them to return home,” Village Sarpanch Sumarbhai Shanjot said.
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