Aurangabad, September 5
Amid the challenges posed by COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown, teachers at a hamlet in Maharashtra's Aurangabad district have devised a method of distance learning to make the local schoolchildren study the syllabus and do the homework by following social distancing.
Teachers of a Zilla Parishad-run primary school in Dattawadi, a settlement of 165 people located near the world- famous Ajanta caves, have named this initiative as 'Neighbour Katta'.
Katta in Marathi means a place where people meet and talk informally.
Under the initiative, the teachers send the list of curricular exercises on the mobile phones of the students' parents. And the children have to complete the given tasks daily during the specified school hours by coming together in small groups by maintaining social distancing.
Each group comprises children of different classes living in the vicinity, so that seniors can guide the juniors.
The photos of the completed homework are then sent in a WhatasApp group to the teachers, who accordingly ask the students to make corrections.
This activity has been going on since April this year.
School headmaster Bapu Bawiskar said, "There are only 19 students in our primary school. After the school was shut due to the lockdown, we decided to form this 'Neighbour Katta'. Its implementation started on April 9."
"We formed groups of around three children of different classes. We send a list of homework through SMS on the phones of their parents as most of them do not have smartphones," he said.
"We have also formed a WhatsApp group of some parents.
We get the clicks of the homework done by students in that group. As a teacher, I check their work. Out of the four hours of school held daily this way, two-and-half hours are dedicated to the study part," he said.
The rest of the school time is reserved for activities like jumping, running, learning or making different sounds to make their study exciting, he said.
"There is 100 per cent attendance," he said, adding that they have completed around 75 per cent of the syllabus of the first semester.
Block education officer of Aurangabad Zilla Parishad Vijay Dutonde said, "This concept of online education has helped children in continuing their education by maintaining social distancing."
Bawiskar claimed that the idea of 'Neighbor Katta' has found a place in the 30 most inspiring ideas of change 2020 organised by the Design for Change (DFC) and United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF). PTI
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