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Mumbai Uncertainty about the reopening of schools during the lockdown, and online education initiatives being impeded by low penetration of smart phones, have led to authorities in Vidarbha’s Gondia district coming up with a unique initiative wherein teachers will take turns to visit areas in the vicinity of students to teach them. The initiative, to be launched soon, will cover students from zilla parishad schools and ashramshalas (residential schools).

“When we launched an online education initiative in April, we realised that just around 35 % to 40% parents and students in our district have smart phones. Then, most parents were home due to the lockdown. However, since paddy sowing operations have begun, they are working in the fields, ensuring that just around 2% households have access to Android phones,” explained Rajkumar Hiware, education officer, Gondia Zilla Parishad.

He added that since around two months of the current 10-month academic season had already been lost, they planned to ensure that teachers went to the localities of their students to teach them.

“Textbooks have already been distributed to the students. Now, teachers will teach them and give homework while maintaining safe distance. If a teacher goes to a particular area, he can teach all students there. We have around 3,500 teachers from Standard 2 to 8, and headmasters will deploy them for this duty in turns. They will report to the Zilla Parishad about what has been done,” said Hiware.

The district, located on Maharashtra’s borders with Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, has 1,039 zilla parishad and 195 aided schools. This includes Marathi and semi-English, Hindi and Urdu medium schools. Gondia has 2.5 lakh students till Standard XII, of which 1.17 lakh study in zilla parishad and aided schools.

Hiware said while the scheme had been approved by the district collector, they were awaiting a nod to launch it considering the spread of the COVID-19 in the district. “This is a good plan for rural areas, as we will kill many birds with one stone,” he added.

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Free Press Journal