The samata.shiksha team visited this school during its tour of Jalna district. This is a brief account of that visit.
The ZP school of Kaanphodi in the Mantha tehsil of Jalna district is a very pleasant place to be. It’s a small primary school, with a neat little garden in front. The garden is covered with a green net to protect the students as well as the flowerbeds from the harsh Marathwada sun. It has a pretty iron arch over its gate, and the students, too, appear neat and tidy in their uniforms.
As we enter, the 1st std students are ready, chalk in hand, to demonstrate their writing skills. One of them accurately writes out a nine-digit number, and another comes forward to identify the place value of each of the digits in that number. The students also display their language skills when they create short stories based on three given words.
This school, which now looks so attractive, started its makeover in 2015. Before that time, it was in poor condition. There was no compound wall, which meant cattle from the village would constantly enter the premises. The floor tiles were damaged, and there wasn’t a single shrub in the vicinity. Then in 2015, Kishan Jadhav came here as Principal, and determined to improve the school in every way. At a meeting with parents as well as other villagers, held after the flag-hoisting ceremony on 15 August, he shared his thoughts about the school’s future. Kishan Jadhav assured the village community that he and the other teacher at the school were willing to work tirelessly to achieve these goals.
The villagers were impressed, and said they were willing to help financially provided he got the school on par with the one in Sriramtanda. The ZP School in Sriramtanda, a mere 20 minutes away from Kaanphodi, was an obvious point of comparison – especially since it had won statewide recognition for its makeover and innovative teaching methods. Jadhav ‘Sir’ promised to seek advice from Jagdish Kude (the teacher responsible for the dramatic improvement of the school at Sriramtanda) and reiterated his aim of making the Kaanphoda school at least as good.
Jadhav ‘Sir’ told the gathering that the first step towards school improvement was to construct a compound wall around the school. Narsinghmama Rathod, a village council member present at this meeting, took on the responsibility of having the wall constructed within four months. But the school would still need funds for repairs and for a paint job – and, as Jadhav ‘Sir’ recalls, “People collected Rs 15,000 there and then, and later on another Rs 35,000, all on the basis of our verbal assurance. Many villagers are farmers from the Banjara tribe, with modest means, and many of them do not even have children in this school, but even so they donated wholeheartedly for the village school.”
Six months after the meeting, thanks to Narasinghmama Rathod, the school had a strong, well-built compound wall. This was followed by repairs to the school floors, toilets and the building of a ramp for the disabled. Shahurao Nevre, the other teacher, suggested they lay out a garden around the school and have an iron arch above the gate. So they prepared the ground, and once again Narsinghmama Rathod helped, providing some 50 or 60 saplings, which the students planted all around, along with their teachers. Through this makeover period, Jadhav ‘Sir’ and Nevre ‘Sir’ continually worked alongside the construction workers, laying bricks and carrying loads, in order to help save money and keep costs down.
Now that such effort had gone into creating the garden, the next step was to ensure that the young saplings did not wither away and die in the intense heat. So Jadhav ‘Sir’ personally spent Rs 5,000 to buy a green garden net, besides Rs 16,000 for the iron gate. The school did not have a water source for watering the plants, but Govindrao Kale, Chairman of the school’s managing committee, offered to divert some water from his house to the school. Principal Jadhav spent another few thousand rupees on the pipeline and water storage tank. He also bought an LED TV for the school, and estimates that since he must have spent close to Rs 70,000 on school upgradation.
Soon the school began to look well-maintained and pretty, but for a patch of land at the back that was full of bramble bush. This belonged to a senior villager called Pundalikrao Kale who, impressed by the tireless efforts of the two teachers to improve the school, decided to donate the nearly 1000 square feet of land to the school. The teachers lost no time in converting the entire area into a green patch.
Even as they improved the outward appearance of the school, the teachers spared no effort to improve the quality of education. Although the school is open from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm, the two teachers arrive as early as 7.30 am. They use this time to help the students with their studies.
Jadhav ‘Sir’ explains, “We aim to strengthen the foundation for all future learning, for our students. And so we try to give them as much practise as we can, while teaching the alphabet, numbers, simple mathematical operations like addition, subtraction, multiplication, etc. We also use language games to enhance their reading skills and creative expression. A 1st std student at our school starts reading within six weeks of starting school. Each student has mastered basic mathematical skills and all our students are able to write numbers up to the value of a billion and also identify the exact place value of each digit in that number.”
The students demonstrated these skills to us. One student accurately wrote out a number running into billions, another did a subtraction which required her to borrow and carry forward numbers. Jadhav ‘Sir’ explained the method they use to help students remember the place values of digits. They have created an acronym from the first letters of the Marathi names of the place values – B(illion),M(illion),L(akh), T(housand),H(undred) T(ens) and U(nits). The word thus created is “akkalahashedon”, which is nonsensical but sounds funny and is easy to remember. The place of the relevant letter in the acronym also helps students identify the place value of any digit in a given number.
Since 2016, The Kaanphodi ZP School has adopted the ABL (Activity Based Learning) teaching methodology. The curriculum is taught based on the student’s level of comprehension and not simply on her age. But students in this school often attempt, and succeed, in tackling the curriculum of higher standard. In fact, students who have gone on to middle school but find their foundation in a subject to be weak, often come back to their old primary school to seek help from their former teachers. And Jadhav ‘Sir’ and Nevre ‘Sir’ help them enthusiastically. They use the constructivist approach to teaching, so as to make the learning process interesting.
Blog photos: Snehal Bansode-Sheludkar
Translation & editing: samata.shiksha team