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18 Dec 2017

How these school teachers established a ‘hi-tech classroom’ to arrest dropout rates

Students listen with rapt attention as a teacher at the Samanpur Jadho government primary school takes classes with the help of a 36-inch LED television set.(HT Photo)
Shruti Tomar ,HT, Dec 17, 2017, Bhopal:  Lekhan Rajak, a Class 4 student at the government primary school in Samanpur Jadho village, hardly skips classes anymore.

The nine-year-old believes that his knowledge of subjects like mathematics and science has improved vastly in the last two months, mostly due to new methods implemented by teachers at the school. It’s a claim that even Sagar district officials acknowledge.

“This is not about just one child,” said Arun Dubey, block academic coordinator of the school education department. “The knowledge level of most students at this primary school is better than that of the average middle-school student. They are also aware of general knowledge and current affairs.”

The situation, however, was quite different till a while ago – when teaching in the school was a run-of-the-mill affair. For one, Rajak and his friends were hardly as regular when it came to attending classes.

The winds of change first began blowing when three teachers at the school – Shivraj Patel, Brijesh Lodhi and Rahul Tiwari –adopted a string of remedial measures to address the lack of interest among student s and the resultant high dropout rate a few months ago. First, they began educating students through video clippings sent through their smartphones. Upon realising that they were more receptive to visual learning techniques than traditional methods, they pooled in funds to replace the class blackboard with a 36-inch LED television and books with e-learning videos.

The transformation that followed took everybody by surprise.

“We had an annual dropout rate of 20-25% for several years now, and attendance stood at an average of 40-50%. However, the introduction of technology in the school curriculum has changed all that,” school headmaster Shivraj Patel told Hindustan Times.

The students also testified to the newfound enthusiasm in their midst for education. “When they used to teach us about plants, body parts and planets from textbooks, I did not go to school as often. I used to find these subjects boring. But now that they show me lifelike images of the same things on the television screen, I feel like learning more about them,” said Anjali Chaubey, a Class 5 student.

Although it is still too early to provide concrete figures in support of the “academic revolution” at the school, everybody – from students, teachers and villagers to district administration officers – testifies to the change in environment at the school.

So, what was the investment involved? The three teachers shelled out Rs 20,000 each to purchase the television set, a 64-GB data card, a mobile phone and a laptop USB connector to transform the regular classroom into a ‘smart’ one. “We knew that government aid would take time coming, and it would be long before we were able to improve the conditions here. So we decided to pool some funds ourselves. We are happy that our efforts have borne fruit, and an increasing number of students are interested in attending classes now,” said Tiwari.

Students are allowed to utilise the smart classroom for an hour every day. Their time before the television is mostly spent learning general knowledge. “We have prepared notes and downloaded interesting images from the Internet to make power point presentations on occasions when videos are not available due to technical problems. We have also obtained the e-syllabus till Class 5 from the school education department,” said Lodhi.

The innovative teaching method has impressed parents and villagers alike.

“It was finding it difficult even to purchase books for my son, but he is now getting a hi-tech education that defies imagination. Even we adults head to school for some ‘high-tech education’ in our free time,” said Hetam Singh Dangi, the father of a Class 3 student.

Dubey also expressed amazement at the improvement in education standards at the institution. “A Class 5 student of the school can now easily answer a science question meant for a Class 8 student!” he exclaimed.

Minister of state for school education Deepak Joshi described the teachers’ initiative as a “praiseworthy” one. “We will see if this model can be replicated in select schools of other districts as a pilot project,” he said.

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