KALABURAGI: As soon as she enters the classroom, Shanti Desai gives a preliminary introduction: “Students, I am here to wipe away your fear of English. Believe in me and concentrate on my lecture. Ask me questions, then see how you control the subject.”
For the past 20 years, Shanti has been visiting high schools and PU Colleges across the state, especially in the hinterland where the subject is uncommon and mentors are hard to come by. She understands the practical difficulty of making children well versed in English. She only ensures that she removes the bogey of fear of the subject from their minds. Shanti also devises short cuts, like story narratives, pictorial and easy methodologies and explanations in Kannada where warranted to enable them to learn the subject better.
The response has been wonderful, says Shanti. “Children scored high marks in English, especially in Yadgir, Bidar, Kalaburagi and Raichur districts in classes 10 and PUC ,” she says. This even led the district administration in Kalaburagi to arrange for classes for government-run institutions in the district.
Shanti takes classes for free for the students of government high schools and PU Colleges but charge s some fee from private institutions. From taking classes for a gathering of 40 to 7,000 students, she is on her feet all day and covers the entire gamut from prose to poetry to practical grammar.
Time can be a constraint, which is why Shanti compresses the syllabus in 5 classes so that the relevant parts are made comprehensible. She also solves question papers through YouTube classes , DVDs and is available on phone when possible. She conducts tests for students before and after the sessions to see if there is any progression in their learning.
Armed with triple postgraduation degrees in English, French and Science apart from a teacher ‘s training degree, she taught for some years in Kalaburagi where she is settled. Later she realised the inhibitions of not only students but also teachers when it came to English. “Teachers would promote children to higher classes without them learning the subject. In some schools, there would be no English educators themselves,” recalls Shanti.
There has been no looking back. She has so far reached out to nearly 5 lakh students with her English lessons over the past 20 years. “I don’t compromise on quality of my coaching,” she says. Husband Ravindra Desai is a great source of support as he helps in arranging the classes.
A recipient of the Kittur Rani Chennamma Award and other recognitions, Shanti says some teachers try to emulate her methodology in schools and that she is open to training some of them too.