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Nagaland: Annual State Teachers Award winners share joy and challenges

By Our Correspondent Updated: Sep 06, 2020 10:00 am

Our Correspondent
Kohima, Sep. 6 (EMN):
The state-level Teachers’ Day celebration this year has been unprecedented owing to the Covid-19 pandemic and the declaration of seven-day national mourning following the demise of the former president of India, Pranab Mukherjee.

Thirteen teachers have been selected by the Nagaland government for this year’s State Teachers Award. However, the formal function has been slated to take place at a later time. Nevertheless, on Saturday, some of the award winners spoke to Eastern Mirror.

“The award shows me that what I have done for the last 28 years is somewhat right. It makes me proud to think that I can do something for the Naga people as well as for the country,” Okram Sunder Singh, the headmaster of Public School Dzüvürü, Kohima, said.

When asked whether the curriculum of NBSE needs to be upgraded, Singh who has been teaching mathematics for at about 25 years, shared that “NBSE syllabus is more or less equivalent to CBSE”.

He added that it is not the content which matters but “it is ourselves who need to work hard”. Reiterating that NBSE syllabus is almost equal to CBSE, he said it doesn’t need to be enhanced. He said that ‘even the curricular course of classes 9 and 10 are almost based on CBSE syllabus, while even Science for classes 11 and 12 is almost based on CBSE’.

When asked how teachers have adapted to the online system as the new mode of imparting lessons to students, the headmaster stated that ‘it is for the first time teachers are conducting online classes throughout the country’.

He said the contemporary teachers are “very advanced” even though most of them have no formal training in online teaching. Singh said that the academic process is progressing through different means such as audio conferencing, video conferencing, live class, audio-video explanation, telephonic conversation, texting etc.

For his school, Singh shared that they are conducting home tests, evaluations and assignments through ‘WhatsApp group classes’. Responses from the students are strictly checked through the social media platform, he said.

Singh further emphasised on the need for development of moral responsibility and sense of self realisation among the students. ‘Emphasis is given to the experience of the student rather than concrete methodologies, and learning rather than teaching,’ he said.

He has been giving free mathematics coaching, and is helping senior Naga students, especially who are studying outside the state.

“I consider this award a reminder that society needs me more. This award will surely boost me a lot and will be able to deliver my duty with redeemed energy,” shared 43-year-old Bijumon Mathew of St. Paul School, Noklak district, who has been teaching English for 13 years.

The teacher also opined that the pattern of NBSE is equally compatible with CBSE. ‘The students of NBSE too can excel like other boards; the only thing is that the board like CBSE provides students with a lot of career-oriented programmes,’ said Mathew.

Affirming that the online system of teaching is a new concept, he said the NBSE provided online training on ‘online and virtual teaching’ on a number of occasions, which has helped him use these teaching platforms effectively.

“I see that my students are much interested and are learning the lessons regularly. I am using Google forms and Google class to conduct the tests and classes,” Mathew said.

“There are a number of brilliant students in every village who lack funds to join better schools. Financial assistance to such students will be a great help,” he shared.

Mathew received the Sub-Divisional Teachers Award in 2013. He was also recognised and awarded by Commission for Education Diocese of Kohima (CEDOK) for his contribution in the field of education.

“Nurturing young minds and the satisfaction of seeing them succeed and do well is what motivates me,” said 53-year-old Vemelino Kirha, who teaches English and Alternative English at Government High School, Jakhama in Kohima.

“I am deeply honoured and humbled to be conferred with the State Award. This award proves that it is hard earned, and the time and effort I put into my teaching profession has paid off,” said Kirha, who has been in the teaching profession for 21 years.

She stated that the process of learning and ‘mastering discipline’ starts at school.

“It is every teacher’s responsibility to help students acquire this trait from childhood, which will not only create a learning environment but also improve the character of the students and make them strong and self reliant individuals,” she said.

Kirha admitted that it is a challenge to take up a different mode of teaching/learning in this Covid-19 pandemic. However, she shared that she has been co-ordinating with the students through mobile apps for online classes, notes, assignments, recorded video lessons, and tests.

“Both the teachers as well as the students are learning to adjust to this new normal as best as we can,” she said.

Kirha encouraged her fellow teachers to give their best and go the extra mile, “especially during this lockdown”, in imparting education.

“There are times when we struggle and face many difficult situations but never give up and persevere. These are all seeds sown towards the betterment and growth of students and teachers alike,” she shared.

Kirha also received the District Teachers Award in 2015.

“I accept this job (teaching) as a beautiful gift and blessing from God as a teacher. I too think that it’s my daily job and responsibility of every student’s career and to mould them in a right track,” said 50-year-old T Neiphoa Konyak, who teaches English and ‘mother tongue’ at Government Primary School, Tizit village in Mon district.

“I accept this award not as a trophy but as a challenge for me to be a better teacher in the days to come and also to continue my task. I feel immense joy and really thankful to our almighty god for this unexpected award and for his rich blessing,” he added.

Konyak shared that he couldn’t conduct online classes due to poor internet connectivity in the village.

Besides, he said that most of the students’ parents do not have smart phones while there are many who do not own even ‘simple cell phones’.

As such, he informed that he prepares notes for the students and distributes them through the parents who come to the school.

For those parents who cannot come to the school, Konyak shared that he personally reaches out to the homes of the students and hands over their notebooks.

The teacher said he also prepares questions for the students to answer in their notes, thereby keeping the students involved mentally in their studies; and then he collects the notes for assessment.

Konyak gives special care for children coming from the weaker section of the society and has offered free remedial classes to slow learners. He also received the District Teachers’ Award in 2012.

By Our Correspondent Updated: Sep 06, 2020 10:00:00 am