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In remote Indian village, teacher turns walls into blackboards to close school gap By Reuters


© Reuters. Children, who do not have access to internet facilities and gadgets, use microscopes as they attend an open-air class outside houses with the walls converted into black boards following the closure of their schools due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19


By Rupak De Chowdhuri

PASCHIM BARDHAMAN, (INDIA), (Reuters) – In a small tribal village on the eastern tip of India, an enterprising teacher has turned walls into blackboards and roads into classrooms, trying to close the gap in learning brought on by prolonged school shutdowns in the country.

Deep Narayan Nayak (34), a teacher from the Paschim Bardhaman District of the eastern state, West Bengal has been painting blackboards to the walls of his houses, and teaching children in the street for the last year. After strict COVID-19 regulations were implemented in March 2020, the local school was closed.

Recently, Nayak watched as children used chalk to write on a wall and then viewed the microscope from above.

The lockdown has halted the education of our children. They used to just wander around. Kiran Turi, whose daughter learns from Nayak, said that the teacher arrived and began teaching them.

Nayak, who teaches 60 children everything from nursery rhymes to hand washing and the importance masks, is a popular “Teacher on the Street”.

Since last month, schools across the nation have been slowly reopening. Social scientists and epidemiologists are demanding that schools reopen fully to prevent children from losing their learning.

An August survey of nearly 1,400 schoolchildren done by a scholars’ group found that in rural areas, only 8% were studying online regularly, 37% were not studying at all, and about half were unable to read more than a few words. According to the survey, most parents wanted schools to be reopened as quickly as possible.

Nayak expressed concern that students who were first-generation learners, and are supported by their families, might abandon school if it didn’t.

He told Reuters that he saw children wandering around the village taking care of cattle, and he wanted to ensure their education doesn’t stop.

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