It’s 4.00 pm and Sanjeev Kumar, a resident of Bhatinda, is getting ready for his online session. A teacher of mathematics with over 18 years experience of teaching at various Kendriya Vidyalaya’s across India, Sanjeev is now at the forefront of a new role – digital educator.
He settles into his chair and opens up two laptops in front of him. One has the zoom application ready, while the other contains the notes he needs for his session. Besides his table sits a glass of water, along with multiple reference books, markers, pens, and a whiteboard, that is placed behind him. These sessions begin at 4.00 pm and go on until 7.00 pm each day of the week.
You have just entered the free online Math class being conducted by Sanjeev Kumar for students of grades 8 and above from all across the globe.
“People have this notion that government school teachers only take their salary every month and do no work. That is exactly what I wish to change,” says Sanjeev, who wishes to play a small part in changing that perception.
With the pandemic induced lockdown announced in March, Sanjeev was sure of wanting to set up a system where he could continue teaching children and says that the exorbitant fees that some of the private players were charging disheartened him.
“I did my own research and understood how I could use technology to reach kids and teach them,” he says.
On 29 March 2020, Sanjeev conducted his first-ever online Math class, in which there were about 50 students. “The first class had children of friends and family, and it was like a test session that I conducted,” he tells me.
His experiment did very well and during his second session on 1 April 2020, he had 350 students join him. “It was then a responsibility that was placed upon me and I had to ensure that I taught them well,” he says.
A government school student all his life, Sanjeev himself decided to become a government school teacher and has been teaching at Kendriya Vidyalaya (KV) for about 18 years now. He currently is teaching at KV Bhatinda Cantonment school. He teaches Math to students of grades 8 and above.
Purchased Premium Zoom Account To Continue Free Classes
Since these online sessions that Sanjeev conducts are absolutely free of charge, he mentions that almost Rs 20,000 is put into these efforts each month from his own salary.
“Initially I started using the free Zoom account, but that would give me only forty minutes of class time. I then decided to upgrade the account and spend USD 70 each month on the upgraded account,” he says.
This upgraded account also allows Sanjeev to accommodate 500 students in each online session. “Even though from my end I have ensured that I have the best and fastest internet connection, I see that students from Chhattisgarh and other parts often get logged out during classes because of the connectivity issues that they face,” he says.
To overcome this issue, Sanjeev makes the notes of each session, which he circulates as a PDF file to the students who attend the sessions.
Here’s How You Can Enrol
The system is fairly straightforward. Students can send a Whatsapp message to 9464302178, mentioning the name of the student, class, and name of the school. Once these details are sent, the student will get a confirmation message and be added to a broadcast group. Details of the session will be sent out ten minutes before the session begins.
Sessions are conducted from 4.00 p.m. to 7.00 p.m. every evening after Sanjeev gets done with the regular school hours. There are three batches of sessions conducted each day, and students of grades 8 and above join these sessions. What started off with students from Bhatinda joining has today students from UAE and Malaysia as well.
Simple Living, High Thinking
A testimonial from a student
Without hesitating Sanjeev shares, “I earn Rs 80,000 every month as salary, my wife who is also a teacher earns about the same. Our needs are limited and we have consciously decided to keep aside Rs 20,000 each month, which we can utilise to teach children and be of use.”
It is the perception that people have of government schools and its teachers that irks Sanjeev, and all he does is to change that. With students from across the globe joining his sessions and benefitting from it, he says, “In doing all this, if I am able to inspire even one other government school teacher to follow suit, I will consider myself a huge success.”
(Edited by Vinayak Hegde)