Government Schools education through WhatsApp

I am Alan Sahu, Assistant teacher, Government Primary School Baghima, Cluster Jashpur, Development Block – Jashpur, District – Jashpur, Chhattisgarh. In this time of lock down, under the able guidance of Mr Nandkumar, IAS we have formed WhatsApp groups of parents of students studying in our schools. Through this group, efforts are being made by the teachers to give different types of work to the children. Accordingly, the children study at home and share photos and videos of this reference by parents in the group. 

Initially not many parents were interested. But not being disappointed by this, we started encouraging the parents by showing them the posts of the parents who were putting their children’s educational activities in groups. This motivated other parents and they too slowly started taking active participation in the group. And while teaching their children at home, they started putting their photos and videos in the group. 

It is true that the majority of children in government schools are those whose parents are low-income, so it is difficult to imagine that all parents will own smartphones. Nevertheless, we started with parents who had smartphones. Currently, parents who do not have a smartphone, also get support from the neighbourhood and put their children in the group. When we started sharing some of the success gained from the WhatsApp-Parents group in our district level group, teachers of many other schools also started teaching children by forming a parents WhatsApp group. 

In just one week, four out of a total of 8 development blocks of Jashpur district got involved in this campaign. As on the date of April 15, 20 schools of four blocks have started teaching through the parents WhatsApp group. From this, 332 children have benefited and shared their posts in their group related to studies. This is just the beginning. I am seeing its ripple effect. Teachers are also motivated by seeing photographs of other school children in the district group, and have started telling their school children and parents to do innovative activities through WhatsApp. The schools in which the formation of parents WhatsApp group earlier seemed impossible have also slowly begun. 

*In the same sequence we started doing another work.* 

Since half of the month of April is about to pass, we started teaching students for the next year with the guidance of our senior officers Mr Kujur, District Education Officer and Mr Vinod Gupta, Principal, Sankalp Jashpur. For this, we contacted the parents and the members of the SMC on phone to prompt the children to give their old books to the children of following Grades. Still there were some children for whom the book could not be made available. For such children, we put 1 chapter of PDF of the textbook in the group every day. The next day, children read the PDF and made videos and put it in groups. This is a very thrilling moment for us teachers. Even thinking that these children living in the remote rural environment are breaking their own limits even in the absence of books, smartphones and sometimes networks. Teaching subjects like Mathematics and English in small classes through mediums like WhatsApp has its own challenges. Therefore, at present we have chosen the Hindi subject under the guidance of our superiors. And, we have given the challenge to our children to finish by just reading the book of Hindi subject in the next 10 days. The children as well as we are excited about this.   

In this time of lock-down, we are still thinking of generating more ideas about how to enable learning and teaching in rural areas. In case, something new and beneficial emerges I would like to inform about that also.

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