Photo via social media
Photo via social media

Simultaneously protecting the high-altitude India-China border and curbing anti-government activities in Maoist-affected states, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police's (ITBP) new incarnation in Chhattisgarh -- a 'smart' teacher for local school children and a student to learn Halbi language from them -- is visible since beginning of 2021.

Personnel of over 90,000 strong force, posted in the state, have been organising internet-based classes for local children in Maoist-affected Kondagaon district. In the course of educating the children, these ITBP personnel are, in turn, gradually learning local Halbi language from them to increase the force's intelligence ability.

Started for children in remote villages children in Hadeli area and adjoining villages in Kondagaon since January 5, the classes are organised by personnel of ITBP's 41st Battalion to enhance the student's knowledge with the help of online audio-visual lessons. The classes are also taken with the help of electronic equipment such as computers and projectors.

The classes are arranged between 3 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. in the week except Thursday -- when weekly markets are held in the region and the children go there to enjoy cock fights. These classes are taken by ITBP personnel who are graduates and have experience and knowledge to teach.

Apart from this, various online learning videos on YouTube, help of e-learning websites are also taken to teach the students by giving them enough opportunities to learn and practice.

"It is envisaged that the value addition of a half hour capsule course on daily basis would in future enable the students to pursue higher studies and would help children to understand the methods of e-learning and virtual online classes," ITBP spokesperson Vivek Pandey told IANS.

"Some 50 students are being benefitted from the initiative."

All these classes are organised through internet as the mobile signal is weak in the area, said Pandey, adding "jawans put their mobile phones at a height through bamboo poles or on tree trunks where it receives the network and it is connected through WiFi hotspot to the laptop used for smart classes which is projected as big screen through the projector. Sound is delivered through bluetooth speakers".

Students from Class 1 to 9 are taught and the focus is on maths and English specifically, along with current affairs, the officer said.

"The children are also shown some films that help them in providing them education," said Pandey, adding "over half dozen ITBP personnel, including a Company Commander, a Sub-Inspector and some constables with graduate degrees are engaged in the job.

Pawan Kumar, Assistant Commandant, who also teaches these students, told IANS that "we tried to engage them against the backdrop of Covid-19".

"We use Google meet, YouTube and some education websites like ekidslearning.org and ixl.com which are subscription-based. These sites provide online study materials which are also used to teach the children. Bodhaguru websites and some YouTube channels are also used to run some videos for educating these children."

Kumar said that Wifi dongle is used to get better internet speed and these are hung on bamboo poles or trees at a certain height to get signals.

Asked about the classes and timing, the officer said: "The classes are run in two shifts. Students from Classes 7 to 9 are taught in one shift and other children in another shift. There is a certain time from 3 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. for classes but it is flexible based on situation. These classes are run six days in a week besides Thursday when there are weekly markets in the region."

As per the officer, a dedicated room is set up to teach these students who are also provided some snacks to keep them interested.

The officer said that these classes are being run since January 5 in Hadeli area.

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