ERODE: When full-week school classes are inadequate to cushion the wrecking Covid-19 brought about to the academics, what do you do with alternate day classes? The government had no other go but to dictate strict regulations for schools as another wave of pandemic threatens to sweep the country.
The impact of this shift in schooling tradition may take years to reveal itself. Tamil teacher Boopathi Raja lacks that kind of patience and is intent on overcoming the hurdles now itself. “The coherence of lessons may get lost on students if they attend only classes online, or during alternate days,” says the teacher from panchayat union primary school at Guruvareddiyur in Anthiyur block.
Boopathi Raja decided to create an easy to access smartphone application containing complete syllabi for Classes 1 to 5. Most teachers sent their students study materials online and thought no more about it. The point, in fact, was that the students had a hard time deciphering the materials. Many new concepts were lost on them, and pedagogues never refrained from flaunting their vocabulary prowess. This is where Raja’s application had to step in. He wanted homespun explanations of concepts, and also a ready-to-access dictionary in his application.
With not even a foggiest idea on where to start, Raja bounced the idea with some private players adept at programme coding. They ballparked the costs at around Rs 40,000, and this was a huge ask. For a teacher skilled in motivating young ones, necessity was inducement enough. Raja began to check out the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) appinventor tutorials. Several late nights and plenty of test runs, spread over nearly six months, later, PUPS Guruvareddiyur was ready for installation.
“Most of my students come from families that could only afford one smartphone, and that would be used by the parents. So, the kids largely missed live online classes as the parents would leave for work during daytime. With this application, they can check out any lesson anytime,” Raja adds.
PUPS Guruvareddiyur has all lessons for Classes 1 to 5, facility to take online tests, English to Tamil translator, and also a link to the Kalvi TV YouTube channel. “While admission to government schools has increased after the pandemic onset, we teachers going the extra mile will reinforce the parents’ trust,” he opines.
There are a total of 270 students and seven teachers at the school in Guruvareddiyur. Nearly 60 per cent of the students have already begun using the application. With favourable promotion, children from nearby schools have also downloaded the app. The online tests comprise one-mark questions and the students can get their results instantly. The benefits of the app are clearly visible when we assess the students’ performance at school, notes, primary school headmaster Venkatachalam.