“These kids are very smart and eager to learn new things. But they were in a fix for the last few months because they did not have a teacher who could teach them,” Shruti Shrivastava, a volunteer teacher, informs The Better India (TBI).
Shruti is one of the 300 people who have been volunteering as teachers in a programme initiated by Rewa District Collector (DC) Om Prakash Shrivastava to address the severe staff crunch in government schools.
When Shrivastava learnt about the problem last year in June, he invited people, with basic educational qualifications, to fill in the gaps. Volunteers contribute to the programme as per their schedules and dates of availability. A volunteer is free to choose the duration of their service – from just one class or one chapter of a textbook to several classes and subjects across a week or even a month.
Understanding the Problem
“Generally, the focus of the district’s education department is to ensure that students in government schools are getting mid-day meals and the required stationery items. Very little attention is paid to teaching methodologies, on-time syllabus completion and students’ participation. The volunteering programme is a way to break that cycle and make quality teaching a priority,” DC Shrivastava tells TBI.
On conducting random checks in the 3,600 government schools across the district, Shrivastava found multiple problems that needed immediate intervention.
For instance, in one of the schools, he saw how the English language teacher was struggling to form a basic sentence in the language. Likewise, in another school, the district officials found teachers teaching Social Science in Hindi, instead of English. Irregular attendance from both teachers and students was another major issue.
And volunteers helped address these shortcomings. For example Shruti, the daughter of the Deputy Collector, recently completed her graduation from Lady Shri Ram College in Delhi and shifted back to Rewa to prepare for her Civil Service examination. She had been teaching underprivileged kids in Delhi through an NGO since 2012. She naturally continued doing so in Rewa as well.
Thanks to her story-telling methods, the students now find history less ‘boring’, since Shruti prefers to establish a link between the past and the present through a narrative. It is just one of the many ways volunteers try to improve on conventional methods of teaching.
“I also made use of a projector to show them the pictures of the historical places and characters. And even told them to watch period movies to make them more interested in History,” Shruti adds.
Bringing A Change
Shrivastava introduced a Zero Budget Mechanism Model to underline the significance of education among students, parents and teachers. Some of the highlights of the models are:
- Regular Parents-Teachers Association (PTA) meetings: The DC and the education department team made meetings mandatory on any one Saturday of each month.
- Maintaining Diaries: Every teacher and volunteers have to maintain the week’s plan in a diary and ensure that the syllabus is covered accordingly.
- Cross-checking of students’ homework.
- Random checking: An official from the education department would conduct random checks in schools every month.
He appointed 350 inspection teams comprising of district officials to monitor the adherence to the steps without any discrepancies in the district schools, “The Monitor Control Room is in constant touch with the Principals. If a teacher is absent or is not teaching properly, the Principal can directly call the control room, and the District Administration Team takes action accordingly,” informs Shrivastava.
In the last eight months, the number of parents attending PTA meetings has risen by 80 per cent. Even though the problem of the student-teacher ratio still persists, the volunteers are proving to be a huge relief.
Certainly a step forward in the right direction.
Want to help? Get in touch with DC Om Prakash Srivastav at: firstname.lastname@example.org
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)