Published: 05th September 2020
How this government school teacher went lane by Delhi lane and brought students back to 'online' class
Ajay Arya, a Physical Education teacher in an East Delhi school, went around the national capital in search of students absent from online classes
How far would a teacher go for his students? This is the question that we ask this Teachers' Day. While the education system as we know it has changed, the responsibility of teachers has increased tremendously. With classes online, they are now teaching to a screen and the students have been reduced to tiny boxes in a video call interface. Amidst this, there are also those, like Delhi government school teacher Ajay Arya, who has gone that extra mile (and is still going) to ensure that not only the students of his school but students of all other government schools in the national capital has a class attend, online or offline.
You might have come across his video on Twitter. He's the one who was seen roaming around the streets of East Delhi, a loudspeaker in hand, announcing that online classes are on. "Most of these students were unaware that their local government school had begun conducting classes online. Some of them, who was supposed to transfer into the Delhi government school from the pre-primary MCD schools, were not even aware that their admission had been done online," says Arya, over a phone call from Delhi. Traffic noises could be heard from the background. When asked, he says, "I am headed to another locality today to find more students." Yes, that's exactly what he has been doing since early August. After taking the details of students (their addresses, phone numbers) from the school authorities, he went in search of his students through the lanes of Delhi, calling out their names and even finding some students from other schools who have also been denied online classes.
Ajay identified this gap in the education system and took it upon himself to ensure students don't fall behind. "For those who don't have access to smartphones, worksheets have been made available. Students or their parents can come to school on Mondays to collect the worksheets for the week and submit it the next week," says Ajay, who teaches Physical Education to Classes 11 and 12. During his walks through the lanes and bylanes of Delhi, he has come across several who didn't have an internet connection or a smartphone. "I would mostly go and visit the localities in the evenings when the parents would be home from work. If I would tell a student about online classes, they will most probably plan to bunk it," Ajay says. He would visit areas following a list, which he obtained from his school, Rajkiya Sarvodaya Bal Vidyalaya, Kiran Vihar, containing the names of students according to their area, block and localities.
His efforts have been appreciated by Delhi's political elites, including Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who even shared his videos on social media. "My aim was to ensure that the students don't lag behind. We could easily track down the ones who were in our school and inform them about WhatsApp. The challenge was to track down pupils of migrant workers who have now travelled back to their home states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand," says Ajay. When he visited their area, their neighbours were unable to identify them and only a few people knew where they had gone. "After managing to get their contact details, I was able to tell those students about online classes. Most of them were from Class 6 and have now joined classes from their homes," he says. Ajay's efforts have been bringing over 15 new students to classes every day for over a month, which not only includes his own school but also those belonging to other government schools in the national capital.
Teachers Who Inspire is our little tribute to some great teachers out there who are bringing hope to entire generations and reaffirm our faith that no other profession comes even close. Happy Teachers' Day to every teacher out there. You know you're awesome and so do we!