The colourfully-painted classroom of Karad Municipal School No.3 in Satara district has now been turned into a full-fledged studio, replete with focus lights.
Since July 1, teachers have been coming to the school as per a schedule, the way they would have for a normal class in the pre-Covid times.
They teach lessons using the whiteboard and markers, in front of a camera manned by a professional. Then the videos are broadcast for students on the local cable TV network.
This set-up has given relief to scores of students in Patan and Karad talukas from the inconvenience of availing e-learning despite most lacking gadgets like computers and smart phones as well as proper Internet connection.
The initiative is being sponsored by two well-wishers of the school, living in Karad. Medical shopowner Salim Mujawar and co-founder of the local junior college, Vijay Lagade, volunteered to bear the cost of Rs 22,000 per month for broadcasting the sessions taken by teachers on the cable TV.
This way, the students do not have to wait for a decent Internet connection to view video lessons on cellphones or computers.
The school has received a four-hour slot on the cable, of which lessons are broadcast two hours in the morning, and are repeat telecast in the evening. Starting at 10.30 am, 30 minutes of class-wise lectures are broadcast for students from classes III to VII. “If on a particular day, we broadcast for a set of classes, then the next day, we will have programmes for the other classes. This way, we aim to cover all students from classes III to VII,” said Principal Arjun Koli.
Harsha Kumbhar, a parent and the president of school’s management committee, said her son, who studies in Class IV, has begun watching the lessons targeted for students of the higher classes. “My son is about to appear for the state’s scholarship exams and the content helps him prepare for those. With online teaching, the Internet connection and small fonts on the cellphone screen used to be a hassle,” she said.
The school is known to have the highest number of students among municipal council schools – nearly 2,500. However, the broadcast on cable TV covers whole of Patan and Karad talukas, reaching an estimated 50,000 students, said Koli.
The Karad Municipal Council has 10 schools under its jurisdiction. “Given that our videos are being created in semi-English format, students of all mediums of zilla parishad and private schools have the option of watching them,” Koli added.
Before deciding to make use of cable TV for furthering children’s education, the school had surveyed parents associated with the school. It found that 59 per cent of the parents had android phones, while cable TV was available to 72 per cent of them. Also, 95 per cent of the parents either had android phones or television.
For students who cannot watch videos on television, the school uploads them on its YouTube channel. Some students who do not have both facilities – cable TV and Internet connection – go to their peer’s house to watch the lessons. So far, the school has prepared 32 videos. For students of classes I and II, the teachers have resorted to sending songs, activities and stories to parents through WhatsApp. In the last three months, the school has made use of various platforms such as Zoom, YouTube and Facebook live to connect to parents and students.
The initiative was taken by the school after being encouraged by school commissioner Vishal Solanki, said Koli. “The new academic year of our school was virtually inaugurated by Minister Varsha Gaikwad and the school education department officials. It was then that Solanki encouraged us to try different options,” said the principal.
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