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When Teachers Rose Up To The Challenge!

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A lot of companies have focused on their employees’ work-from-home needs during this crisis situation, by helping them set-up their offices at home through items like tables, chairs, laptops, desktops, and even reimbursements for their Wi-Fi connections.

And, these are not just made available to employees staying in cities where the office is located but also in their respective hometowns. But people can still complain about anything and everything.

And so, this made me think about, how our teachers managed to go online or how they managed with the infrastructure and technology to earn their bread and butter?

The fact that gurukuls were replaced by English schools which were then replaced by learning at home, may not be as fancy and sophisticated as it sounds in the current scenario

I could think of so many, but below may be the real barriers to the process of making a shift from learning to e-learning and makes me respect all the teachers, even more!

1.      When It’s All Black And White:

Have you not heard your parents or grandparents talk about their achievements, when they said, they had spent nights studying under street lights due to power-cut problems during their ‘historic’ times.

And I used to feel lucky for being born in ‘92 as if I was already living in a world where people have hardly heard of power-cut, but I soon understood the reality when I faced one

Now, I cannot talk about villages or remote areas, when in many parts of cities, there is electricity available only for a few hours or goes on and off during the day, multiple times.

I cannot imagine being under that pressure of completing my chores on a daily basis and then managing my job of teaching small kids before the electricity goes off

And it is not just about doing any job, it is THE most important job of teaching students and making sure they are following you and are engaged throughout the session

2.      When Students Are Insensitive:

Yes, they are sometimes, when they bully their teachers either by sending messages online on the group chats or passing comments and they cannot be recognized as these come from fake IDs that students have created

But thankfully, not all of them do this, some care very little about what’s happening and mind their own business and go off to sleep while the video is still on which shows that they are available and attending lectures

There are others who take this ‘involve-your-parents’ factor so seriously, that instead of them attending the lectures, they make their parents sit in front of the screen which again is deceptive as it shows that the students are online. And its teacher’s luck if the parents could follow them, they would share it with their smarty-pants or the class was just a waste

3.      Is It So Easy With Connections?

You would agree when I say, not everybody has a Wi-Fi connection at their place, some manage it with a dongle or hotspot or sometimes they make their neighbors manage by stealing away the internet without them even knowing

But is this managing connection business possible when it comes to downloading stuff and large assignments and then uploading or sharing those with students for them to work on?

Unless you have a very good Wi-Fi or broadband connection, life is difficult, but again how many schools would be able to help their teachers with the reimbursements, while the teachers are leaving no stone unturned for the learning to continue

4.      Environment Matters

Agree or not, no matter how much efforts are put in, the environment of a school can never be replaced with online learning at home

While there is a factor of comfort and saving on time and traveling, the connection that teachers develop one on one with students is not something that can be achieved on-screen, which requires more efforts and patience, especially with small kids

Whether the student is comfortable with a concept or a topic, is sometimes understood, with his or her facial expressions which is mostly not possible with only the teacher’s video being visible.

So, in the current online scenario, the teachers would try explaining a topic multiple times in her own creative ways or if a student is in doubt, it will be known, only if he raises his electronic hands and asks questions and once the doubt-solving is over, just like our mothers know that the food is cooked, not by eating all of it but by tasting some of it, the teacher would also assume that everything is understood by everyone in one session

5.      Opportunity Or Competition:

The lockdown has served as an advantage to many new or existing online educational ventures

They could make more money than usual with the schools completely shut down and students and teachers left with the only option to look for something online, thus increasing the market share of these ventures

However, this may have proved to be very competitive for the school teachers due to 2 reasons:

One may be because school teachers who are dedicated to teaching using conventional resources like textbooks, a blackboard and a chalk for years, the shift to online mode is so not easy and comfortable for them

The other reason being, anyone can join these e-learning companies and can teach any subject with their own comfort level and little or no teaching experience. They are college pass-outs or corporate professionals and our teachers are supposed to throw their hats in the ring with little or no technological experience

6.      It Is Not Enough To Have Content:

While teachers are required to have laptops (as smartphones may not always work due to the limitations of the user interface), as one of the basic components to start with, they must also have a classroom set up which requires a good background, a white or electronic board and a good microphone and all of these from their own pockets

As if this is not enough, they must also acquire knowledge to operate these devices like professionals, when in reality they need a lot of help and a level of sensitivity from their school, students and parents

Further many of them may be already feeling conscious to appear in front of cameras and on this, they are trying their best to conduct and continue with their sessions because now especially, they are being watched and judged by parents too, on their teaching and communication skills

So, in the end, I would say that many of us hardly wanted to be teachers when we were asked about our dream jobs in the early days of our career and I now realize that it is not everyone who has the competence to help build someone else’s career.

Respectful and Thankful to all our teachers!

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

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