This school teacher chose not to wait for schools to reopen. Instead, she decided to make house calls to teach her school’s kids. Now for the past one month Meera Ramanathan, a teacher at the Government Primary School at Kavarapatti near Pudukottai town has been teaching classes at the homes of her school's students.
“Sometime in June when the kids came to the school to collect their free textbooks and notebooks they were unable to even write their names in the ledger. I realized then that most of them had forgotten how to write due to the lockdowns. Their learning involved only passively listening to the teachers through online classes or the state-run “Kalvi TV” channel. Writing is very important for primary school kids since it develops their motor skills and in their absence, these kids would have trouble writing if and when they returned to classes,” said Meera.
So one fine Monday morning Ramanathan decided to take matters into her own hands and zipped on her two-wheeler to a colony in Kavarapatti village where some of her students lived. She asked the parents if she could teach the kids at their homes and they were only too happy to agree. One parent offered a big thatched shed in front of his house for her classes while another assembled the students from their homes. “I made sure that all of us wore masks, sanitized hands and maintained distance,” explained the 30-year-old teacher.
To avoid crowding at a single venue Meera decided to take classes for first to the standard students at three venues in each village on a designated day. She expanded these classes to cover five villages around the schools from where her students used to come, devoting one day to one village each. “It is better that I travel to their homes than they come all the way in buses and vans during the pandemic. Most importantly I make sure there is a writing assignment every day and give them homework that involves writing,” Ramanathan disclosed. And the parents would be asked to make sure their wards completed the homework, she added.
While the parents of the students were only too happy to see the teacher’s devotion, what came as a surprise was when some neighbours brought their kids, studying in private schools, to also attend the schools. “I could not say no. And I was only too happy seeing so many kids in front of me after more than a year,” Ramanathan pointed out. Appreciating her initiative, the district educational officer is now sounding out other government teachers if they too would go on home visits to teach.
In Tamil Nadu, the government has permitted the reopening of schools only from class nine and above. “Kudos to Meera teacher. Classes for such small groups are possible in villages and small towns where open spaces are available. But in cities it would be difficult to find airy places and follow Covid protocols,” said the teacher of a Chennai school.