Aamir ki zubaani

“Bhaiya Rickshaw” “Bhaiya Auto” “Kahan jaaoge Bhaiya” Greeted by these sounds I alighted at Rajnandgaon railway station. After living in Dehradun, Uttrakhand for two months I moved to Chhattisgarh which was a new place for me wherein I would be spending considerable amount of time now. I had heard a lot about this state with respect to conflict and was keen on gaining an understanding of the realities from the ground. On the very first day in Rajnandgaon, I had a walk around the city which was completed in an hour. I also went around a very beautiful lake named Rani sagar, covered an adjoining park named chaupati and international hockey stadium. I was mesmerized by the beauty of the place and I was excited and happy to have moved to a small and charming city, Rajnandgaon.

Next day was a real challenge for me as training of teacher was going to start which was scheduled to run for ten long days in different phases at different places. But my hesitation disappeared once I reached DIET, Khairagarh. The teachers were late for the training, but once they all reached the training program they became very interactive and participatory. Second day, the Mission Director of SSA, Ms Shammi Abidi herself came to Khiaragarh to see the program. Response of teachers to her questions regarding the training program was really encouraging for me. The principal and vice principal of Khairagarh DIET supported the training program and also promised to provide all kind of support to me in the field.

The second program of teacher training was held in two parallel sessions at Rajnandgaon and Chauki. Chauki block is situated 50 km away from Rajnandgaon city. Both the place and the people were very welcoming in the true sense of the word. The location was Kanya training school which was covered by forests from all sides which made this location even more beautiful. What could be more engaging than this where people did not ask for lunch break until I had to remind them for lunch after half an hour into the agreed time for lunch initially

Training of CACs and DIET scholars at Khairagarh DIET on Saturday was a challenge as we had just one day to orient them with Maths kit. However, despite the session starting late we were able to finish on time while covering almost all the concepts. The participation of DIET scholars in the session was very encouraging for me and their participation in improving quality education was vital and kept me going. After finishing training session in Rajnandgaon district we headed to Kabirdham district of Chhattisgarh where two days training session in two parallel batches was going to be started from 8th November, 2014. Most teachers turned up late on the first day but we managed to start off with the training with a sizeable number of teachers in each batch. After some time the teachers were divided into two parallel groups. Despite the hindrances and queries pertaining to the state education department we were able to elicit their attention and at last their eagerness to introduce the kit in schools was worth reckoning.

Chennai – Chattisgarh- Another saga unfolds: The Chattisgarh chapter began in right earnest when I re-joined my colleagues at Rajnandgaon after a comfortable train journey from Chennai. The training began as scheduled in Wesleyian High School, Chattisgarh. Mr. Vivek Joshi opened the session with a brief introduction of the team. This was preceded by a small visit to the CEO, Zilla Panchayat’s office. The CEO, Dr. Priyanka Shukla was quite welcoming and excited to elicit the support of Sampark Foundation in improving the quality of primary education in the district of Rajnandgaon. She also briefed us on the resourceful Block Resource Co-ordinators (BRCs) who were setting examples in the district.

A special mention was the BRC Mr. Chauhan of Khairagarh block who had on his own initiative has started a Big Innovation Group (BIG) in his block. As promised, she visited the training session in Wesleyian High School and reiterated on the importance of teachers and the role they play in shaping future leaders. The training session on ‘Early Maths’ conducted in Rajnandgaon found a special mention in the papers of “ Nayi Duniya “.

A parallel session was conducted by the second team in Chowki block led ably by Mr. Sandeep with the support of Mr. Aamir and Mr. Nilesh Ramteke. The session began with Nilesh introducing us to his Chattisgarhi colleagues and him sharing his experience of getting trained on the Maths kit in Bangalore. He also briefed the august gathering on his experiences of using the Maths kit in his school. The second day we decided to shift teams in an attempt to get a glimpse into different environments. Hence, Aamir and I shifted teams in an attempt to understand the diverse gathering of teachers and share the unique learnings amongst ourselves. As we moved from one training session to another, we gained clarity on a wide range of things starting from conceptual clarity on the Maths kit, our mode of delivery, diversity of teachers and the backgrounds they operate in. Each session unravelled in myriad ways and laid threadbare to us the prevailing state of affairs within the government system.

 The 3rd session at DIET, Khairagarh saw a mixed group of professionals attending the training. The eclectic mix comprised of the Ded. scholars of DIET, Block resource co-ordinators and teachers of the identified schools. This led to a renewed energy both for us and the teams undergoing the training. It was supported by the Prinicpal and Vice- Principal of DIET, Khairagarh. This was followed by a trip to the adjoining district of Kabirdham.

Upon reaching the DIET, Kawardha we were warmly welcomed by Mr. Adhikari, Prinicipal of DIET, Kawardha. The session in Kawardha was enriching to say the least as we encountered teachers who were vocal about the problems they had to grapple with in the district. Upon lending a patient ear to their problems, the session began earnestly and the teachers in spite of their decided to fruitfully utilize their time by engaging with us.

The second day saw more acceptance from the gathering. The group learning within the teachers to stay positive and the willingness to take back new learnings from the session was evident from the groups. This was a big positive for us as it gave us renewed energy to conduct the session. The fact that teachers were highly positive of the benefit of the Maths kit which they voiced in between breaks was encouraging to say the least.

 After a draining first day, there was a sea change in the atmosphere. A few teachers enquired with us regarding possibilities of them conducting training in other schools of their clusters.

The concluding session was chaired by the District Education Officer, Mr. Pandey who saw distinct possibilities in ‘learning Maths by doing’ through hands on techniques like the Maths kit. Sharing his experiences as a bureaucrat over the past 20 years, he envisioned Chattisgarh to be amongst the high performing states in the education sector and enlisted the support of Sampark Foundation and reminded the teachers of their responsibilities in realizing this dream.

 

The road is untrodden and laden with challenges and opportunities. We, at Sampark Foundation envision to be the change agent who can push and inspire the state agencies and various actors into action. Our vision is to create a self sustained cadre of inspired professionals and teachers with a keen sense of ownership to take up the project forward. We desire to translate our learnings across geographies of Punjab, Uttarakhand, Ladakh into this project running in Chattisgarh. The current phase of the project is running in a few selected schools of the Rajnandgaon and Kabirdham districts of Chattisgarh. We intend to work alongside officials, from the ground up, learn from teachers and translate these learnings into all the schools of all clusters of the two districts of the state and thereby create a million inspired minds in primary education.

 

Vijay Ganesh and Aamir Ali

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