Video Editor: Ashutosh Bhardwaj
A teacher from the tribal village of Joba Attpara in West Bengal's West Bardhaman district has turned walls into blackboards and streets into classrooms, in an attempt to bridge the gap in learning due to prolonged school closure and lack of devices and means for online studies.
34-year-old Deep Narayan Nayak painted blackboards on the walls of houses. He has been taking lessons with the children of the village, on the streets, for a year now.
The only school in the village shut down after strict lockdown was imposed in the country, since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Nayak did not want any of his students to miss out on their studies or forget their lessons. So, he came up with this inspiring attempt.
'Didn't Want The Children to Just Loiter Around'
Fondly known as 'rastar master' (teacher of the streets), Nayak teaches almost all subjects to the children in the village — from nursery rhymes to COVID-appropriate behavior. Most children in the village don't have access to devices and gadgets that would enable them to take online classes. Nayak has taught them to use laptops, microscopes and other gadgets and tools, in his open-air classroom.
Most of the these children are kids of daily-wage workers and Nayak is their hope. Nayak fears that these children, who are majorly first-generation learners would forget their lessons and drift away from education, due to prolonged school shutdowns and limited access to online lessons.
"I would see the children just loitering about the village or taking the cattle for grazing. I wanted to make sure their learning doesn't stop." - Nayak told Reuters
Online Education in Rural India: Reality and Challenges
A recent survey – School Children's Online and Offline Learning (SCHOOL) – of nearly 1,400 underprivileged school children in rural India, has revealed shocking details, as a result of prolonged school closure and online studies, since the outbreak of the COVID pandemic. The survey was conducted to study the impact of lockdown on the education system, especially in Rural India.
The survey showed the major challenges faced by children in Rural India, since the schools shut down:
Only 8 percent of children have access to Internet
36 percent of children don't have access to a smartphone
Six percent of children can't afford a data pack
Among those who can, 10 percent find it difficult to follow what is being taught online
43 percent of schools did not send study materials
Close to 48 percent of children cannot read beyond a few words
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