The Sikkim government has formally launched the programme “home-schooling for elementary education” after learning about several teachers reaching out to junior students at their door with resources to ensure that they don’t miss out on learning. Since the schools were forced to shut since March due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and were expected to conduct online classes in areas with little or no phone connectivity, teachers began taking impromptu classes for their students one-on-one at their doorstep.
“The teachers were doing this arbitrarily. We decided to issue guidelines and make the system more structured,’’ says Director, Elementary Education, Bhim Thatal, adding that all of Sikkim’s 10,252 government school teachers have been pressed into service under the programme.
The education department meticulously mapped out the location of every government school teacher and assigned them areas. “A teacher living in a village can now ask their counterpart in another village to take over their students and vice versa,’’ says Thatal, adding that the government is also utilising community radio services and local television networks to impart education.
Additional Chief Secretary (Education) with the Sikkim government G S Upadhyay told Indian Express that it was the poor connectivity in the state (both phone as well as Internet) that prompted the government to adopt the “homeschooling” programme. “It’s only in a few urban areas of Sikkim that parents own smartphones or tablets. So there is a glaring digital divide in these parts. There had to be a solution to this divide. Many teachers started this initiative to ensure that children continued learning. When we saw how successful this was, we decided to make it an official system last month,’’ he says.
Nevika Kafley, an English teacher at the Senior Secondary school in Bermiok Tokal, South Sikkim, has been visiting homes of students since April from 9 am till lunch time. Over the week, she reaches out to around 35 students between classes 1 and 5. “I spend about 20 minutes with each student. On a weekly basis, I collect their notebooks and write lessons for them, which they have to finish over the course of the week. I also brief parents on what needs to be done,’’ says Kafley, adding that the village has poor Internet connectivity most of the time. Besides, none of the parents in Bermiok Tokal own a smartphone.
Many teachers also take classes at a community room. Ganga Biswakarma teaches Hindi, English and Nepali to students from Classes 1 to 5 in Pamphok village. She doesn’t visit the students’ homes but instead calls them, five a day, to a community room and conducts classes.
Source: Indian ExpressNews, States