PUDUKKOTTAI: Another academic year began without much fanfare as schools are still shut. Online classes are a luxury that only a few can afford. For most government school students in remote villages, access to internet and individual phones is not available. To help these students, some government school teachers have been going the extra mile to teach them.
Meet one such — Meena Ramanathan, teacher at the Panchayat Union Primary School in Kavarappatti. She has been reaching out to students individually in two villages near the school, in Viralimalai. She travels more than 10 km on her scooter to reach the villages. A small open area would suffice to set up her classroom, in which she ensures all the students wear mask and are seated with enough distance between them.
Meena teaches Tamil, English, and Maths for Class 1-5 students. Such is the interest in her teaching that even students of Class 7 and 8 from other schools come and attend her classes. The initiative which was started in March 2021 was briefly halted by the second wave of Covid, but resumed in July as she felt the students really needed some help.
She says, “Initially I set up a WhatsApp group for my Class 4 students. Eventually, many parents started asking me when the school would reopen. I realised that schools wouldn’t reopen anytime soon this academic year too. Hence, I decided to do something about it.”
The news of her taking classes spread fast in the villages that students gathered under one place even before she arrived, she says. “It was disappointing to see that these children had forgotten the basics, but it’s not their fault. So I started with the basics, like a bridge course. They have all picked up very well,” she adds, noting that nothing can replace traditional classrooms.
The happiness on seeing their children attend classes with much interest can be visibly seen on parents’ face. Most of them are daily-wage labourers who said they understand the importance of education. A parent said, “I was worried as my child was not paying much attention to studies. With Meena’s efforts, I’m really happy. She is a blessing for all these children.”