Odisha to send trainee teachers to the doorstep of primary school students

Initiative will address learning gap for children, enable practical experience for trainee teachers.

With the lack of Internet connectivity and access to smartphones depriving thousands of children of school lessons, the Odisha government has come up with the innovative idea of sending 10,000 trainee teachers to the students’ doorstep to address the learning gap.

The COVID-19 pandemic has already had an adverse impact on one academic year and may disrupt the forthcoming academic year in the event of a possible third wave. To address this issue, the State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) is set to hold detailed consultations with the Principals of teachers’ training institutes on the modalities of sending trainee teachers to the students.

“As part of teachers’ training courses, candidates are required to complete an internship before graduating. As all the institutes are closed and they cannot participate in physical classroom teaching, we want these trainee teachers to take classes for students in Classes 2 to 5. They should clear the doubts of primary students,” said Gangadhar Sahoo, Director, SCERT, Odisha.

At present, more than 10,000 trainee teachers are enrolled in the 65 teacher training institutes in the State. The planned internship will be for three months and senior teachers will guide the trainees.

“The trainee teachers do not have to travel outside their own villages. They should look for students in need of special classes in their villages or in neighouring ones. Upon taking the consent of parents, they can start their classes during the day time. Preferably, every group should have 10-15 students,” Mr. Sahoo said.

The SCERT Director said trainee teachers will be advised to follow COVID-19 appropriate behaviour. Trainee teachers can request village elders to provide them space either a community hall or in the spacious verandahs of individual houses, he said.

“It is win-win situation for both the trainee teachers and the children who have been deprived of education in the normal course. So far, either parents or relatives have taken on the responsibility of carrying forward the education of students in preliminary classes. Now, in this arrangement, budding teachers will address the learning gap,” explained Mr. Sahoo.

UNICEF has come forward to partner in the unique initiative, and will provide masks and hand sanitisers for children.

The Unified District Information System for Education report for Odisha has found only 2% government schools have Internet facilities and only 28.22% have Internet connections. Since 2020, school students have faced indescribable hardships in attending classes. Students have been seen climbing trees, overhead water tanks and hills to access connectivity. Parents have had to sell livestock and gold to be able to buy smartphones for their wards. The majority of students, however, continue to be deprived of reliable access to education in the pandemic.

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