05 August 2019

Where kids learn with a billion-dollar smile

By Srinivas Bhavaraju

The lanes leading to this primary school in Charamah, a small village, some 15 kilometers away from Kanker, were narrow. It was my second day of field visit in Chhattisgarh, and I had already been to four schools, which, like most government schools in the state, had a dilapidated building with damp classrooms and barren playgrounds.

But this schools was different-- the manicured lawn in the front of the school had a variety of plants, there was a colourful play area that was created using waste material.

The classrooms were airy and had enough sunlight filtering in through the windows. There were shelves that displayed the crafts made by the students. There were small libraries in classrooms with a good collection of books.

As I entered one of the classrooms, all the students rose singing, ‘good morning Sir’. Their teacher, too, greeted me with much warmth. She was teaching with the help of Sampark Didi, an audio device given to the school by Sampark Foundation. The children were learning the three letter words that day.

This teacher though didn’t attend the training to use the Teaching-Learning Materials (TLMs) organized by the Sampark Foundation,  had learnt all the lessons using the device from her fellow teachers who had done so. She was affectionate and full of energy. The students, all attentive and happy, as Samaprk Didi imparted English lessons in its own musical style.

The atmosphere was no different in the adjoining class. They were older students, and they were learning Math. Most of the kids were able to solve grade-specific math problems pretty easily.

“We have tried to create a wholesome environment in the school that encourages learning. We believe in overall development of the children, and so we developed a play area and garden. The students have created the garden and take care of it, learning a lot about the plants and environment in the process. Besides, it also gives them a sense of ownership; they keep the school premises clean and green,” says Tijeshawari Yadav, teacher, Prathmic Shala, Unkari.

“We also try and promote extra-curricular learning among these children, many of them sing and dance well. Whenever possible we arrange a sports event at the school. A lot of parents who were earlier sending their children to private schools are now sending them to our school,” said the principal.

It is the passion and hard work of these teachers that has transformed a government school in this Naxal-affected, backward village.

In this school, students, always carrying a billion-dollar smile on their face, are not only learning Math, English, or Science but are also learning to dream big. 

(The writer is State Operations Manager- Chhattisgarh, at Sampark Foundation. Views expressed are personal)