No digital access, no problem: Rajasthan teachers hold classes outdoors
For children with no digital access, classes are now conducted under trees and the open sky in Dekhla village in Jamwaramgarh tehsil of Jaipur, Rajasthan.
Schools have been closed for over one-and-a-half years due to the pandemic, and most classes (be in government school or private school) are conducted online. However, there’s a large section of students that has no access to any digital medium or smartphone or is living in areas with poor network.
Considering this, two teachers of Government Primary School, Dekhla, decided to start holding classes outdoors from June 30, and beautified the school by painting its walls during the lockdown.
Students now maintain social distance as they sit around a tree and study from 8am to 10.30am twice a week.
“We inform the students when the next class will be held. There are online modules for students but many don’t have digital access; besides the network is too poor here,” said Narendra Kumar, a teacher at the government school in Dekhla.
There are around 70 students in the school who could not study for the last one-and-a-half years, but now are attending the outdoor classes. “The parents are happy and children are also taking an interest. Many of them had forgotten the basics as they were out of touch,” said Kumar.
On asking what motivates them, he said, “We are paid for this, and its our duty to ensure that the children continue with their education.”
Kumar, along with the school principal, even beautified the walls of the schools during the lockdown. “We were sitting idle during March-April so painted the wall,” he said.
Speaking on the initiative, Class 4 student Ekta said, “My two brothers and I couldn’t go to school due to lockdown. We couldn’t afford online classes and now that classes are held near our home, we all are attending regularly,” she said.
A senior state education department official said in the last academic session 2020-21, out of 8.3 million students, only 3.3 million attended online classes, which means 5 million were deprived of education. The department claimed that 3.7 million students were educated via TV and radio under the Aao Ghar Se Sikhe programme, but despite this, 1.3 million students could not attend classes.
He said this academic year, the department is targeting educating 7 million students online.
The department’s deputy director Arun Sharma said the department started the Smile programme wherein teachers would prepare education material for online classes. But when they realized that many students did not have digital access, the Aao Ghar se Sikhe programme was started.
Under Aao Ghar se Sikhe, the teachers document the students’ homework, and take the weekly quizzes to their houses for them to solve, he said.
Meanwhile, teachers of a government school in Barmer’s Bhimtal village have started travel on a camel gifted to them by villagers so they can hold classes right in their villages.
The mobile network here is very poor as well. Initially, it began with classes at one village, around a kilometre away from the government senior secondary school, Bhimtal. But gradually, more parents wanted their children to be taught, so more villages were added to schedule. Students here are informed two days in advance of the visit.