RAJINDER KAUR, is a Punjabi teacher posted with the Government Senior Secondary School in Alampur Mandra village of Mansa district. A resident of Mansa city, she went to her village Pilsian, Haryana (sharing a border with Mansa) with her family after the lockdown began. Like many other teachers, she is holding online classes for her students, but in doing faced one major obstacle — a number of students not having smartphones.
“In class VII, I take a class of 38 students and only 10 have smartphones. It was a challenge for me. I visit Alampur Mandra, Udat Saidewal and Kashin Chhina villages, which fall within a radius of 7 km in Mansa once a week and distribute notes to students who don’t have smartphones. I also talk to them over phone on a daily basis. In the initial days of the session, I had distributed copies, stationery, charts etc. among them. Even now if needed, I give them.”
‘I drive to villages to distribute study material’
Kaur thus drives 20 km from her village to distribute material and sometimes even clears the students’ doubts in person, while maintaining social distance.
“We also go to villages to spread awareness about the coronavirus. So I make it a point to visit all those houses where my students are staying. At the gate, I ask the students about their studies, difficulties if any, and hand over notes to them,” she said. Some students of classes XI and XII have phones and hence they sometimes help other students living nearby.
Parveen Sharma, who teaches in Government Primary School of Burj Manshahia village of Bathinda, lives in Rampura phul’s town area, which is about 4 km from the village. “Last year we had 96 students in our primary school and this year, they have been increased to 110. Admissions are happening even now. Hence, I need to connect to new students as well. So I make my videos of reciting poems or teaching a subject depending upon the age of the student and send to their phones,” she said.
He further said, “For old students, a number of them are related to each other and hence share a common smartphone of the family. I along with my colleague Gurpreet make content for students as per topic, get them photocopied and distribute them to students on a weekly basis.”
‘I make them practice for competitions at their doorstep’
“The Punjab School Education Board is going to start academic competitions. There is a singing competition on July 24 and another for poetry on August 3. Last week, I went to the village for Covid awareness. During the visit, I took helped the students practice their singing and poetry while standing at the gates of their houses and shortlisted 6 for the competitions. They have been given topics to prepare,” said Parveen, adding, “They sing from the verandah and I stand outside. I make them do corrections if any. As they don’t have smartphones, they can’t send me their videos of doing practice. So, I found this way. In mid-August there is a declamation contest and I will make students prepare for that later on.”
Teachers agree that a number of students don’t have smartphones and hence it is necessary to reach out to them. Navdeep Sandhu, principal of the Government Senior Secondary Multipurpose School in Ludhiana, said, “Every student in our school has a phone, whether smartphone or only for calling. Hence, we do reach out to each and every student. A few students’ fathers come in the evening. Hence, teachers make video calls to them at that time to follow up with them regarding homework.”
‘I clear their doubts over phone calls’
Shubla Sharma, English teacher at Government Senior Secondary School in Tirha village of Mohali district, said, “A few senior students of the village are told at times to guide junior students because they live nearby. Phone calls to students are made to ask them about their doubts because I know that in English, students need more help.”
Edu dept’s survey
Recently, a survey was also done by the Punjab education department to ascertain how many students have smartphones, laptops, televisions or simple calling phones. The survey details are still being compiled. The idea was to know whether students are able to get content being prepared by teachers.
“Sometimes students lie, saying that their smartphone has been taken by their father and hence they cannot study. I personally went to check this in Ghumaira village of Faridkot. One student had made an excuse that his brother had taken the phone. I went to the village and found that brother was sitting outside in a lane. Hence, we not only distribute notes, but also try to personally ensure that the children are studying,” said Harbinder Singh Sekhon, a teacher of Government Middle School, Ghumaira, who where he lives 10 km away.
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