Monday, June 30, 2008
Last week, I was teaching them the names of the parts of the body--I showed them my fingers and asked them what they were called--"fingers" they chimed. But when I showed them the toes...in a loud angelic voice they answered "leg fingers"! and calf they thought was called "back sheen" Sweet aren't they? I forget my walking woes when I'm with them :)
Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) reaches out to the children of commercial sex workers in a corner of the city in Kolkata as a part of their “Education for All” program.
The social stigma and the fear of ostracism kept mothers from enrolling their children - till the SSA intervened with regular counselling, interaction and awareness drives.
“Children are never made to feel that their mothers are from this disreputable place where I live. Ten years ago, school not have even looked at us, let alone admitted our children to study. So much has changed over the last few years,” said Banita, a sex worker, whose daughter Sona studies at the
Several lakh degree certificates awarded by the University of Madras and a few other state universities through the distance education programme for over 12 years are not valid for getting employment in Central government departments.
Due to lack of infrastructure, students are made to either sit in the verandah or outside the classrooms, irrespective of the weather — rain, heat or cold.The pictures below are students of Rasoolpura Government School Hyderabad diligently taking a test in the veranda of their school.
Despite the absolute negligence by the government towards the school, the students are blessed with an organization called Bhumi--a group of young individuals who have revived the school and have given it a fresh lease of life. In two years, apart from other necessities, they have even managed to built enough classrooms for all the students-- Thanks to organizations like Panterra Networks (formerly Pandora Networks--where I worked last) who in their own way contribute to make this change easier.
Next time around when I visit the school, i'll see a different picture. Literally.
The 7 graders--the girl in glasses (front) stood first in the previous year...this morning she read out a poem in Hindi and translated bits and pieces of it in English for the non Hindi speaking audience :)
The lower graders waiting for their parents to pick them up.
I lifted the red schoolbag just to get a feel of how heavy they were and goodness me!They were as heavy as a ten kilo rice bag!
Buying guava from a fruit seller through the grill of the school gate.
It's 2pm and they are dying to go home but the gate is locked and will be opened only after the long bell is rung :)
Monday, June 23, 2008
However, with the textbooks being made available online, life will get a little easier. If this facility is utilized well and classes are planned systematically, it might even lessen the burden of carrying heavy school bags for students.
Most importantly, students and teachers can now turn to the Internet while the government and publishers take their own time getting the books to children. I still do worry about students who do not have access to the Internet or use the State syllabus. But for now at least I’m contented with the fact that my students will no longer suffer even if they study in a government school—they will now have the best learning resources available to them not just school textbooks.
Friday, June 20, 2008
"Education should be imparted in mother tongue up to 10th standard as it promotes creativity and sharpens intellect immensely”.
Monday, June 16, 2008
This morning as I stood on the balcony sipping my morning cuppa chai, I saw this young school girl dressed in her school uniform pulling a trolley bag down the road towards a car that was parked a minute away. On closer inspection, I noticed that the trolley was actually a regular school bag, with wheels and a pull-handle. This scene reminded me of an article featured just two days back on the 14th June in the Times of India “Now school carry books on trolleys”
Much has been written about the heavy school bags already, so I don’t need to delve into the issue again. In fact, some time back I wrote about the Chandigarh Government’s plan of doing away with textbooks and thus with heavy school bags. I don’t know how far the plan is being implemented, but here, in
Friday, June 13, 2008
I had a meeting with the Red Cross officials this morning and as I waited for them to turn up, I noticed a group of unfamiliar students dressed in their own attire seated in a corner of the corridor. I was told that these were newly admitted students, all in grade VI, part of the recently announced plan of the Govt. of A.P. They are the ones who will be using the CBSE syllabus and will be taught in English medium.
The department on Tuesday issued an order introducing English as the medium of instruction with CBSE syllabus from class VI in 6,500 select schools, covering over 250,000 students.
The move is part of the World Bank-aided Strengthening and Universalisation of Quality and Access to Secondary Schools (SUCCESS) project.
Under the order, students of classes VI and VII of upper primary schools which are within two kilometre radius of high schools where English would be introduced as medium of teaching would be shifted to the nearby high schools along with teachers and other administrative staff.
While Red Cross Girls’ High School is an English medium school with their own class VI students why the Government ordered the school to have a bunch of girls from here and there, beats me! At the same time, the teachers are already hands full--the amount of attention the students will receive also worries me.
The students are from Telugu and Urdu medium schools, who am told do not even understand a word of English! Among other things, they do not have a classroom for these students and unless the Government fulfills their promise of providing ‘specially trained’ teachers for them, these students will be left even without teachers.
While there are concerns voiced out by academicians, teachers, parents and concerned citizens, this is a first hand experience of the fiasco that has been doing the rounds ever since the Government announced the plan.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
After last year’s experimental teaching, I will be the official English teacher for the 8th grade students for this academic year. In a week’s time, we will be deploying the Virtual Classroom technology at the Red Cross Government Girls' High School. I’ll be teaching 3 days remotely using our VC and 3 days physically present with them.
How do I feel? Excited, but at the same time, a little nervous. After all, it’s about making a difference to 50 odd girls. And that’s a big responsibility!
I’ve been gearing up for a month now, reading up on teaching techniques, working with our engineers to fix all minor bugs, and getting more features added in our Virtual Classroom application. Emotionally and mentally, I’ve determined not to be disappointed and even when I do, not to give up.
It’s going to be yet another exciting and challenging year. And I need all the good wishes and blessings that you could bestow upon me :)