Wheels of Learning

The winter is arriving in Chhattisgarh and today I am biking with Om Prakash to see the schools where Sampark Smart Class Program is being implemented. These schools lie around 50 km from Raipur in Arang Block. We go out of the city, cross the railway line, and suddenly we find ourselves in a rural landscape which is distinctly different from the dynamism of the city.


As we tread further, we spot a school in Mandir Hasaud and enter. I can hear the chatter of children and a few are strolling in the playground. Two teachers welcome us and inform that the others have gone to the block headquarters to participate in the strike. One of them is trained in Math and English and uses the TLM in the classroom every day. Not just it, she has trained one more teacher to use the TLM. There are 8 teachers in the school with around 240 children, and Om asks them if they think all the teachers would like to be trained. They agree instantaneously and ask for an orientation the very next day.


Their willingness is heartwarming, so I ask an untrained teacher why exactly are they keen on it? She says her students enjoy the play-way method and she can see the progress in children who have been using the TLM regularly. We resume the journey from Mandir Hasaud and move ahead on the same dusty road. Soon we arrive at Primary School 2 and see children listening to Sampark Didi and singing the rhymes. The teacher uses the English kit every day when she teaches the children. They have learnt to sing the rhymes with proper pronunciation and also understand the meaning of the words. This is a change that has been brought about by Sampark Didi, Sampark’s voice mascot: the children are able to construct simple sentences in English and respond to the questions when asked. The enthusiasm of the class is amazing and the teacher has been able to make it work.


As we finish our visit, we stop at a corner tea shop on our way back to have a cup of Chai. As I sit on the wooden bench and sip my Chai, Om receives a call from District Coordinator asking him to make a plan for refresher training of teachers in the district to be undertaken in the following week.


We are back to our planning board and the wheels have started to turn.


Venkatesh Malur

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