Published: 08th July 2020
These Wayanad teachers are going to tribal kids' homes so that those with no electricity can access online classes
The Kattunaikkar students who study in Rajiv Gandhi Memorial Model Residential Higher Secondary School, Wayanad went back to their colonies in the beginning of March
It was somewhere around the first week of March that the pandemic started spreading like wildfire. Soon, the schools were closed. The students of Rajiv Gandhi Memorial Model Residential Higher Secondary School in Wayanad were back to their homes in tribal colonies across the district.
Four months have passed. It is July and the pandemic is yet to be contained. Even though the students could not go back to school, the Kerala government reopened the schools online through its 'First Bell' programme. The same lessons were made available via TV too. But a lot of these tribal students lived in colonies that are not electrified. Mobile networks aren't available in a lot of these places. How do they continue to study, in that case? The question lingered.
That was when Vasu MR, the school Malayalam teacher and Headmaster-in charge, along with a few other teachers came up with a solution. Every fortnight, they download the lessons from the KITE (Kerala Infrastructure & Technology for Education) website to their laptops, which they charge from the school and take them to the colonies, where they play these lessons for the students. "We look for a house in the neighbourhood which can house a large number of children and play the lessons for them there. Their houses are not electrified, so this is the only way out. After all, they are our children," says Vasu Maash, as he is popularly known. Maash is the Malayalam word for a male teacher. He tells us that the initiative is supported by the district's education department and the tribal officer, who arranges them vehicles to travel to these colonies.
The school is exclusively run for the students who belong to the Kattunaikkar community, which is one of the most primitive tribal communities in Kerala. "The children are excited to see us. They wait patiently for us. It's been months since they've been to school. They must be missing us," says Vasu Maash. While the teachers ensure that they carry chocolates for their beloved students, the parents send them back to the town with hands full of vegetables and produce from the forest.
These teachers also try to create awareness among the students about the pandemic and the use of masks and sanitisers. "Thankfully these colonies are free from the virus. The life there is normal. So, it is not exactly necessary for them to maintain social distancing there. However, we wear masks around them and sanitise our hands before interacting with them," says Vasu Maash.