Lessons with a YouTube edge, meditation sessions and other novel ways of teaching — we aren’t talking about a modern school in one of the metros but a government-run institute in a nondescript Madhya Pradesh village.
Its unique approach to teaching has earned the all-girls school in Karondi near Jabalpur city, 300 km from Bhopal, an enviable track record — all 148 students who appeared for the 2011 higher secondary board exams secured first division and in the past five years, no student has failed to secure pass marks in the boards. No wonder then that eight schools in Bhopal plan to replicate its teaching model.
“If one remote government school can do it, why can’t others? said PR Tiwari, joint director of public instructions in the state’s school education department.
Principal Dinesh Awasthi, 55, has made learning fun for his 1,500 students. He downloads images from YouTube and shows them to his students for better and faster understanding.
“There is a general attitude among government teachers that they cannot do anything innovative as government rules act as hurdles. But my experience says if one has honest intentions, everybody comes forward to help,” he told HT.
That help is provided by Jan Bhagidari, a body of school authorities, parents and village elders that drives several rural educational institutions in the state.
In a rural setting with students mostly from the economically weaker sections, the school boasts of a fully computerised database of students and staff. It uses software designed for free by students from engineering colleges. The software has a timetable-creator, an exam analyser (to record each student's marks through all her days in school) and a revision test analyser (to remind students to revise lessons).
Teachers communicate with students through an audio system. The students also prepare daily news bulletins that are read aloud. Instead of the bell to signal the end of each class, meditation music is played for three minutes to help students re-focus.
"I am preparing for engineering. My school makes me forget the adverse conditions at home," says Manisha Pasi, who ranked third in the state in the Class 10 boards.
"I never went to school but I thank the principal and teachers for taking care of her studies completely," says her father Shyam Sunder Pasi, a vegetable vendor.
"Everybody loves the way we are taught here," says Shivani Singh, who was fifth in the state merit list.
And all these facilities come for a humble fee. No fee is charged till class 8, under the Right to Education Act. The annual fee for Classes 9 to 12 varies from Rs. 600 to Rs. 650. Education is also free for 500 of the poorest students in Classes 9-12. The school makes a meagre Rs. 5-6 lakh a year in fees. Teachers are paid Rs. 20,000-25,000 a month.
Delhi's government schools could take a leaf out of its book. The Capital's institutions have computer-aided learning but lack teachers and even functional computers. Many have labs but these are shut most of the time.