Published: 17th November 2020
This young teacher in Jharkhand has been conducting classes under a tree for government school kids
Pavitra Ichagutu, a 24-year-old teacher from Jharkhand is a fellow of the NGO Plan India. She teaches Hindi, English and Mathematics
Pavitra Ichagutu's life hasn't been too different before, during and after the lockdown. A graduate in Hindi, she joined a government school in Jharkhand's Bhoya as a teacher in January. She would wake up every day to go to work, teach her students, and get back home.
This changed in the middle of march. COVID cases in the country kept on rising and the schools were closed for an indefinite period. Pavitra stayed home for a few days, but she couldn't let her students miss out on getting an education — there was just too much at stake. Hence began a journey where she would go from house to house, convincing each student's parents to send their child to a temporary school, under a tree, in their village. "The parents were immediately on board, for their kids were out of touch with their subjects for a while," she says.
A few days later, she started conducting these classes for 35 students in her village, six days a week. I teach them English, Hindi and Mathematics," says Pavitra who is also a fellow of the NGO Plan India. In her classroom without walls, each student sits a metre apart. "I explained the social distancing norms to them and they understood that. They wear masks too," she says.
As soon as the schools got closed, a lot of teachers immediately switched to taking classes online for their students. This includes Pavitra's brother and sister-in-law who are also teachers. "However, I had no way of doing that. The students who attend our school come from really poor families. They do not have access to gadgets or internet connection," she says.
She also says that most of her students spoke a vernacular dialect and it was no piece of cake for her to teach them. "That was when I came up with strategies like storytelling and songs. That did wonders," she says. Now was she ever scared of contracting the virus while stepping out, even during the strict lockdown? She says, "Not at all. Ours is a village and there are no COVID cases. We take all precautions stepping out. Also, the parents and I wanted to ensure that no student misses out on education," she signs off.