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Indian teacher turns streets into classrooms for village kids

An Indian teacher is transforming a remote tribal village in eastern India by painting blackboards on walls and conducting classes for children on the streets, to help overcome the challenges of social distancing and the lack of internet and electronic gadgets.

From teaching nursery rhymes to educating about diseases through a microscope, primary school teacher Deep Narayan Nayak is helping these village students, who had to drop out due to lockdown, get a second shot at education.

"We are teaching children everything -- how to maintain social distancing, how to wear a mask, what is the importance of masks and hand washing. The children came forward and participated in this initiative and they are also educating others," said Nayak.

India ordered schools to close down in March last year to curb the spread of the coronavirus. While many children in cities have been able to learn through online classes, some like the children in Paschim Bardhaman have gone months without opening schoolbooks.

A survey of nearly 1,400 school children done in August 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. Most parents wanted schools to reopen as soon as possible, it said.

The reasons ranged from children not owning a smartphone, having poor mobile connectivity, to not having the money to pay for an internet connection.

"Those students who left their studies due to the lockdown have returned to study with us. It feels good," said a student, Maundiya Ora.

India last month approved its first COVID-19 shot for people under 18, though as of now only adults are being immunized. As new infections have stabilized around 30,000 a day in the past few weeks, some Indian states have restarted face-to-face teaching, albeit mainly for middle schools and above. 

(Source: Reuters) 

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