KOCHI: Though online classes have been able to save a school year which otherwise would have been badly affected due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it brought to light problems being faced by a group of students, especially those with learning disabilities. These issues came to light during the teaching practice sessions of the second-year students of Diploma in Elementary Education (DElEd) of the Government Teachers’ Training Institute(GTTI) at Ettumanoor. The struggle faced by students prompted them and their instructor to come up with a project called ‘Vamozhi’ or the ‘talking textbook’.
“During the teaching practice, the DElEd students realised that students with learning disabilities were finding it difficult to read textbooks during online classes. They get left behind,” said Jayakumar S, teacher educator and master trainer with the National Council for Education Research and Training (NCERT). Another incident prompted Jayakumar to come up with such a project. “Recently, a Class V student ended life in the state after she lagged behind her classmates in lessons. She couldn’t read and this was because she couldn’t hear,” said Jayakumar who is also the programme coordinator.
Here a learning gap is happening, he added. “This happens when parents or a guardian is unavailable during the class time to help out the student. We can’t blame the parents since they can’t afford to avoid going to their jobs. But here the child suffers since they don’t have scaffolding to help them get the structure of the language, be it English or Malayalam,” he said. This is where ‘Vamozhi’ comes into play, he added.
“Vamozhi plays the role of the scaffolding and thereby addresses the learning gap being generated during online classes,” said Jayakumar. Vamozhi makes use of YouTube as a medium to reach out to the students. “Another important facet of the project is that unlike normal YouTube videos, the files uploaded as part of ‘Vamozhi’ have only audio,” he said.
“This ensures that students’ concentration won’t waver. After some sessions, student’s learning pace becomes self-adjusted and they pick up the nuances of language,” said Jayakumar. The talking textbooks for ‘Vamozhi’ has been recorded by the DElEd students and hence is very easy to follow for the children. “Right now, students have prepared audio files for class III Malayalam, English and EVS lessons,” he added.
Very soon, students will record other subjects, said Jayakumar adding once the project is handed over to Ettumanoor Block Resource Centre (BRC) it will reach the needy students. The project will be handed over to the BRC on December 3, International Day for Persons with Disabilities. According to Sam P Abraham, Block Project Coordinator, Ettumanoor BRC of Samagra Shiksha Kerala, the project will be assimilated into SSK and will be available through its portal.