In remote Indian village, teacher turns walls into chalkboards to bridge the school gap

PASCHIM BARDHAMAN, (INDIA), Sept. 16 (Reuters) – In a small tribal village on the eastern tip of India, an enterprising teacher turned walls into chalkboards and roads into classrooms, trying to bridge the gap. learning gap caused by prolonged school closings around the country.

Deep Narayan Nayak, 34, a teacher in the tribal village of Joba Attpara, Paschim Bardhaman district, east West Bengal, painted blackboards on the walls of houses and taught children on the streets l ‘last year. The local school closed after strict COVID-19 restrictions were imposed across the country in March 2020.

One recent morning, children wrote on one of these walls with chalk and looked through a microscope while Nayak watched them.

“Our children’s education has stopped since the lockdown was imposed. The children used to just hang out. The teacher came and started teaching them,” Kiran Turi told Reuters, whose the child learns with Nayak.

Children, who do not have access to internet facilities and gadgets, use laptops in an outdoor classroom outside a house whose walls have been converted to blackboards after their schools have closed in due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) epidemic, at Joba Attpara Village in Paschim Bardhaman District, East West Bengal, India on September 13, 2021. REUTERS / Rupak De Chowdhuri

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Nayak teaches everything from popular nursery rhymes to the importance of masks and hand washing to around 60 students and is popularly known as “Master of the Street” to grateful villagers.

Schools across the country have gradually started to reopen from last month. Some epidemiologists and sociologists are calling for them to open up completely to prevent any further learning loss in children.

A survey carried out in August among nearly 1,400 schoolchildren by a group of academics found that in rural areas, only 8% studied online regularly, 37% did not study at all and about half were unable to read more than a few words. Most parents wanted schools to reopen as soon as possible, he said. Read more

Nayak said he was concerned that his students, most of whom are first generation learners and whose parents are daily wage earners, would move away from the education system if they did not continue their education.

“I saw children strolling through the village, taking cattle to pasture, and I wanted to make sure their learning didn’t stop,” he told Reuters.

Written by Shilpa Jamkhandikar. Editing by Gerry Doyle

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Christina A. Kroll

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