Serkong School’s efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic
Home schooling without internet in the remote Spiti Valley
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Serkong School could not reopen in March 2020, after the usual winter break. When it became clear that schools throughout India could not reopen anytime soon, our teachers quickly developed a system to ensure all students could participate in home schooling – despite an unreliable internet connection and most of the 255 students having no access to the internet or computers or tablets.
A biweekly schedule to include all students
The teachers of Serkong School developed a plan for conducting home schooling without the internet. On 19 May 2020, the class teachers prepared lists that clarified the home villages of all students. These lists became the basis for our biweekly activities, which include the delivery of assignments, the process of checking, reviewing and correcting them, and delivering the evaluated assignments back to the students.
Every subject teacher is responsible for creating home assignments for two weeks and for preparing the relevant number of copies. The topics covered differ for students in the primary classes and those in the higher classes:
Grade 1 to grade 5: English, Hindi, Bhoti (the Tibetan language spoken in northern India), mathematics and environmental studies.
Grade 6 to grade 10: English, Hindi, Bhoti, Sanskrit, mathematics, science, social sciences and yoga.
The class teachers and the subject teachers are jointly in charge of checking, reviewing and correcting the results submitted by the students according to their relevant teaching responsibilities. The class teachers have the overall responsibility for making sure that all assignments are covered within two weeks and are delivered back in time, together with the new assignment sheets, within the scheduled two-week period. This also includes the careful packing of assignments and notebooks with responses per village, to avoid losing or damaging documents.
Long distances to be travelled
As regards transportation, the teachers have arranged for the use of two cars and have developed a revolving schedule, so that four teachers are always scheduled to bring the new assignments to the students and to pick up all delivered work. One car, with two teachers, heads northwards to the areas from Tabo to Khab Bridge (Kinnaur), and the other car heads southwards to the areas from Tabo to Kaza.
The distances covered on the simple mountain roads are quite long:
Lari 4 km; Sumar 12 km; Hurling 18 km; Shalkhar 36 km; Chango 41 km; Leo, Hango, Chuling 78 km; Tashigang, Namgia, Dubling 99 km.
Poh 10 km; Mane 24 km; Dankhar 31 km; Pin Valley 64 km; Kaza 46 km.
The teachers are prepared to keep this system in place until the schools in Spiti Valley receive permission to reopen. There was no summer break this year – usually 15 days long – as we had a longer period of winter break because of Covid-19.
Author: Ramesh Kumar, English and computing teacher at Serkong School
2 September 2020