Maharashtra’s tribal schools make offline learning accessible to students

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Published on Sep 27, 2020 11:04 PM IST
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ByAnkita Bhatkhande, Mumbai

With a large number of tribal schools’ students in the state having no access to online education, the state government’s tribal development department has been working with school authorities to make several offline learning tools available for these students.

Nearly 4.74 lakh students are studying in various tribal schools across the state. With the Covid-19 situation and the resultant lockdown, students are now in their homes, most of which are located in remote areas across the state. As schools began their new academic year online in June this year, tribal schools have a set of challenges ahead of them.

“Most students studying in these schools have no access to the internet and a basic phone even. So, ensuring that their education continues was important and for this, we came up with a comprehensive plan,” said Kiran Kulkarni, former commissioner of the tribal development department.

The department has recently come up with a document titled ‘Unlock Learning’ listing out all the initiatives that it took up over the last 4 months to ensure that offline learning reaches students even as schools remain shut. An important initiative that has been taken as part of the strategy is the appointment of local resource persons to facilitate learning.

“To make sure that students continue learning and get the necessary help and support to do so constantly, educated students, anganwadi workers and government employees in the vicinity are appointed as resource persons voluntarily. They have a list of students in their locality and are in a position to play the role of mediators between teachers and students,” states the 54-page long document compiled by the department. Students have also been given workbooks and activity books specially designed for offline learning outside of schools.

Teachers from ashram schools have been allotted 20-25 students each and have been doing home visits once every week to the homes of these students. Teachers have also been encouraged to remain sensitive to the cultural and social contexts of students.

“Some homes might not have enough light and the children might be in old clothes. Teachers should be empathetic towards their need,” states the document. Wardens of tribal hostels have been asked to keep a check on students from time to time. Teachers have also shot short videos in the local context to make learning more interesting for students.

Shaila Thakur, a teacher at an aided tribal school in Chikhale, Panvel said, “We go to the localities of students with teaching aids and teach them in small groups. Every day, teachers visit different localities, so once every week, every child gets personal guidance. On the remaining days, we stay in touch through phones.”

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