The Panchaleshwar ZP School at Gevrai, Beed, has classes from playschool up to the 5th std. Two teachers manage all these classes between them. It’s a pleasant school, painted in bright, cheerful colours. The teachers have themselves made different kinds of educational resources based on constructivist principles.
The school received a citation in 2017, declaring it a “tobacco-free school. The teachers have been so successful in convincing the students about the ill effects of tobacco addiction, that the latter actively dissuade their family members from habits like tobacco chewing and smoking. The initiative has helped make almost the entire village of Panchaleshwarfree of tobacco addiction.
NamdeoChaudhar‘Sir’ explains, “We tell our students about the ill effects of addiction. We inform them about diseases caused by tobacco addiction, such as cancer, and speak about how addiction destroys families. Obviously, tobacco use is not allowed within the school premises, but our students also persuade their parents and other family members against indulging the habit at home. If the children are asked to go get cigarettes or tobacco, they coolly use the money to buy candy for themselves and their classmates. This has led to many villagers quitting the habit.”
Chaudhar‘Sir’recounts an incident that shows how the students have begun to take a strong stand against addiction: “In our school, students welcome guests and look after them while they are here. Students know tobacco-chewing or smoking is not allowed on the premises. So when a visitor casually took a tobacco pouch out of his pocket after being served refreshments, a student who was also Acting Chief Minister of the school came forward and politely asked him to refrain. He added that the guest could go out of the premises if he wished to chew tobacco. This embarrassed the guest, who put the pouch away.”
‘Sir’ says that it is because of such conscientious students that the school received the “tobacco-free school” citation from the Salaam Bombay Trust and the state’s Education Department.
At present, the PanchaleshwarZP School has 90 students. Often, a single teacher has to manage two or three classes together. This gives the teachers an opportunity to make good use of picture cards and other games based on constructivist principles. Separate trays for Marathi, English, and Maths are stocked with resources like number blocks, picture cards, jigsaw puzzles, word strips, and so on, arranged according to age groups. All these aids and resources have been made by NamdeoChaudhar‘Sir’, Bharat Pople‘Sir’ and SachinKhillare‘Sir’. They create materials on the school computer and get the printouts laminated for durability. The school has its own lamination machine, besides a computer and a colour printer.
These educational aids make it easier for the teachers to manage more than one class simultaneously. As a teacher teaches one group of students, he might ask another group to practice (for instance) their Maths, using the number blocks or place value beads. The second group is then kept busy doing simple addition, subtraction, multiplication, ascending and descending numbers, place value of numbers, and so on.
The school also makes efforts to improve its students’ English language skills. They are introduced to the language from the 1ststd, and are taught the meanings of everyday words, how to use these words in sentences, and pronunciation, with the help of games and picture cards. Thus even the youngest students, in the 1st or 2ndstd, can easily form eight or ten sentences on topics such as ‘Myself’ or ‘My School’. Older students are able to converse with visitors in English, and often interview them.
The school has managed to raise some Rs 2,00,000 through community donations, which has been used to repair the school structure, install sliding windows, and buy necessary educational materials. Chaudhar‘Sir’ and Popale‘Sir’ have, between them, donated Rs35,000 for painting the walls. In 2017, with donations worth Rs80,000 from the community and Rs40,000 from the teachers, the students were given uniforms, shoes, tracksuits, workbooks, notebooks; 1st and 2ndstd students received school bags.
The LIC of India (Life Insurance Corporation of India) has launched several insurance schemes specifically for students. The schools are authorized to act as LIC agent for these schemes, and help students enroll in them. This school has got 25 students enrolled in such schemes. From the 7,500 rupees that it received from LIC, the school purchased its lamination machine.
The school elects a new Student Committee every year, through the open ballot system. They elect a Chief Minister, and a cabinet of 14 other Ministers, who are then given portfolios: Health Minister, Garden Minister, Library Minister, and so on.
Impressed by the school’s progress, a sect called Mahanubhav that has a few ashrams in the area offered to give the school a projector. They also offered space in the ashram for visitors to the school to stay overnight. An intervention by the school’s teachers brought six children who belong to this sect into the mainstream of education – they now study in this school.
Students of the PanchaleshwarZP School regularly win awards in sports, public speaking, and essay competitions. All these achievements have meant that the school management committee and the village community are firmly behind the school and its teachers.
Blog: Snehal Bansode-Sheludkar, For Comet Media Foundation
Translation & editing: samata.shiksha team