Teachers Day 2021

Teachers who went beyond call of duty to ensure learning continuity

September 5, 2021
– Reshma Ravishanker and Dipta Joshi

As the education sector is metamorphosing to adopt blended learning, teachers who are at the core of this change have overcome several challenges during the Covid 19 pandemic, working overtime to ensure a seamless transformation. On the occassion of Teachers Day 2021 here are some teachers who have set an example by showcasing their out-of-the-box thinking capacities and working with determination to stand out from the rest.

Prema Mishra, Maharashtra

Prema MishraFormer COO of an international school, Prema Mishra quit her lucrative position in 2019 to pursue her passion for enabling and training teachers countrywide. Through her UCatapult Foundation, Mishra has collaborated with faculty from top-notch schools and universities across India to facilitate workshops for teachers in private and government schools, mostly, free of cost.

Mishra’s foundation also runs a virtual school ‘Buniyaad’ for rural students from the BPL categories. Besides, the foundation has initiated several projects such as Saksham that offers career counseling and skill development training to rural women, Project Kathakaar for heritage education and Project Pustakalaya for setting up of digital libraries.

In one such initiative, workshops were conducted for teachers from government schools in Bihar. Ensuring that the best of teaching-learning is achieved with minimal access to resources and hand-holding them during the Covid-19 pandemic prompted digital shift, Mishra drew from her experience to help these teachers wade through challenges in the training sessions. “During this initial lockdown period of six months, UCatapult Foundation successfully conducted over 150+ trainings pan-India, for 2400 plus teachers/facilitators across various academic subjects and later, in the state of Bihar over 578 teachers have been reached. We currently have over 37+ resource people working this initiative pro-bono. It is our ‘Cheshta’ to enable our teachers with the best skills -from across the world,” she said.

Taking it a step forward, she also convened teachers who could offer training to students whose schools offered to digital learning. “When the pandemic set in, some students had access to phones but their schools had no education. We called all such students on a common platform and are started a virtual school to ensure there was no learning loss,” Mishra said.  

By March 2027, the foundation hopes to train at least 10,000 rural, government teachers, of which, 3000 have received training till date and have are targeting 20,000 rural students of Bihar board to avail Free Coaching (Classes VI -X ) classes and run at least 15-20 ‘un-academic programs. Currently, 425 students currently are studying on the digital app/platform.

Nagaraja CM, Karnataka

NagarajaAmong the 44 award-winning teachers of the National Teachers award, 2021 is CM Nagaraja, a science teacher from the Government High School at Doddabanahalli in Bengaluru South. A champion of eco-friendly living, Nagaraja recycled a pile of broken school chairs and tables into a projector table, a newspaper stand and cupboard for use by the school’s teachers and students. Besides the funds that his school managed to spare, Nagaraja reached out to donors, NGOs and local authorities and had a rain water harvesting system installed on-campus.

“Just to wash utensils used to serve mid-day meals and children’s plates, 1,000 ltrs of water was being used. It occurred to me that the same could be pumped into the school’s kitchen garden and reused. I introduced the basic concepts of drip irrigation and sprinkler methods to students and got them working on it. A chamber was installed and the waste water was pumped into the garden. Now, no water is wasted,” he says. Nagaraja also arranged for the collection of biodegradable waste from the leftovers of mid-day meals, gardening waste from the neighborhood’s farms and made compost on campus to be used in the school garden.

“Milk for mid-day meals came in plastic covers every day.  These covers were collected over a period and washed. This was sent to the local tailors and I got covers for computer screens stitched from them,” he said. 

This science teacher also got students to apply textbook knowledge in real life. “I guided students to construct the compound wall, build rims around plants,  introduced them to Worli art and also had them paint the campus. Students had to use concepts taught in maths, physics and chemistry to make it happen. This skill development of students was appreciated by parents and the community,” Nagaraja added.

Shashi Prakash Singh, Uttar Pradesh

Shashi Prakash SinghShashi Prakash Singh, a chemistry teacher from Ballia, Uttar Pradesh has initiated ‘Mission 2021’  to provide financial support to aid the education of underprivileged children affected due to COVID pandemic. The 36-year-old currently associated with online teaching platform Unacademy, has already provided financial aid to 300 students across the country’s northern and eastern states. 

Believing education is an apt tool for self-development and can directly impact one’s income generation capacity, the College of Engineering, Roorkee alum has dipped into his personal savings to promote his cause. Extending the initiative to students from the southern and western states of India too, ‘Mission 2021’ hopes to help students orphaned due to Covid, students belonging to families facing financial crisis due to loss of jobs during the pandemic as well as students from economically weaker sections of society. The mission which has a cap of spending Rs 25,000 on each student aspires to provide financial support towards school fees and other educational resources like stationery, laptops, etc. as well as providing counselling to the students. 

“The situation is so grave, especially in cases where the children have lost their parents to the pandemic that lakhs of children are dropping out of the education system and are being forced to work as labourers to provide for themselves and their families. There is an urgent need for everyone to add to the central and state government’s efforts. Besides, government schemes have to adhere to certain parameters and have to mandatorily go through certain checks, all of which may require time and effort as they depend on factors like geographical boundaries, population etc. This may sometimes end up delaying the benefits. I believe those of us who are in touch with the student community directly should take the initiative to do so,” says Singh.

Also read: 

Teachers’ Day 2020: Special initiatives launched for teachers

Teachers’ Day: Keeping up with online classes in the COVID-19 era

World Mental Health Day: Impact of the pandemic on teachers

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