DUMKA: A village school in Jharkhand‘s Dumka district has given distance learning in the time of lockdown a new spin by using strategically placed loudspeakers to reach out to students who don’t have smartphones for online classes.
Shyam Kishore Gandhi, the principal of Bankathi Upgraded Middle School, came up with the idea of using a network of loudspeakers connected to a microphone for lessons after learning that 204 out of 246 students do not have access to a smartphone.
The microphone is placed on a stone slab in the village chowk while the loudspeakers sit on treetops at multiple locations so that the students get to hear their teachers loud and clear from the courtyard of a home, atop a terrace or wherever it is convenient for them to study without being disturbed.
“Since only 42 of our students had access to mobile data, we had to innovate to ensure nobody was left behind. With lessons over loudspeakers, social distancing is being maintained and children are not missing out on their studies despite not having smartphones,” the principal said.
Attendance has been close to 100% on most days, and nobody in the village has yet complained about the unusual aural experience of loudspeakers blaring science, mathematics, geography or language lessons.
Manisha Marandi, a Class VII student, said she took to the new way of learning without much difficulty. “In the early days of the lockdown, I had to visit classmates who have smartphones for online classes. But understanding what is being taught over loudspeakers is way easier than peering into a small screen and trying to grasp what our teachers are saying.” Tribal-dominated Dumka district hasn’t reported any Covid case since June 2.