Pune: “A school is the soul of any village. It is most crucial for the overall development of a village as well as the upbringing of the next generation there,” said Sunil Aloorkar, the man behind the initiative zpguruji, wherein teachers at Zilla Parishad schools in Maharashtra are trained to use technology in their mother tongue.
Aloorkar, who is a Nanded-based ZP teacher himself, said the idea behind the initiative was to impart technological knowledge to other teachers like him. “I started with the aim to pass on the knowledge that I had to other ZP teachers like me. As time passed, the training became more technology-centric. We received backing from the government as the Education Department too wanted teachers and classrooms at ZP schools to be tech-savvy.”
As he started conducting workshops, he realised that language is the main barrier that stops teachers from getting acquainted with technology. “If these things are taught in the first language, it’s much easier for them to understand and learn. Thus, I began making training videos in Marathi. We started training teachers in everything right from Marathi typing to making educational material. The teachers were trained how to make adequate reference material for students according to the concepts they are being taught,” he said.
The initiative was launched two years ago, and now almost every district in the State has teacher training centres. Aloorkar himself visits several villages across the State to spread the reach of the initiative. He said, “Initially, we trained at least one or two teachers in each district, who went back to train more teachers and the process still continues.”
He won four National Awards for teachers in 2017 for his idea of teaching technology to teachers in their first language presented to teachers and educational officials from all over the country.
While the State government wants to go digital in the educational sector, it has often been criticised for not being able to provide rural areas with necessary infrastructure as basic facilities like electricity, Internet, etc. aren’t available in many villages.
“These difficulties are common in the rural areas. The government certainly needs to find solutions to these infrastructural hurdles. Also, some smart solutions can solve the problems for the time being. Instead of working on computers, most of the Internet-related jobs can be done through smartphone apps. Anyway, it’s the responsibility of the government that Internet should be made available to teachers and students in rural areas,” Aloorkar said.
‘ZP school closure a bad idea’
Taking a stand against the controversial issue regarding the proposed closure of more than 1,000 ZP schools in the state, Aloorkar said, “The schools should not be closed. Because these schools have less number of students, the government wants to shut them down. What if next year there are more students in the area who could potentially attend the particular school that has been closed down? In this case, there is no provision to revive the school. Closing a school will affect the educational character of that village.”