Mumbai schools to give Nagaland students the gift of technology

Fresh from a visit to the northeastern state as part of an exchange programme, teachers from city schools say plans are underway to send computers to the schools there, which lack IT infrastructure; teachers from the state will also be called to Mumbai so they can take computer lessons before teaching their students

A group of 11 teachers from the city, who visited various schools in Nagaland for 10 days as part of a faculty exchange programme, returned on Tuesday with a fresh perspective of the northeastern state and with a plan to introduce the students there to computers.

Awed: The students and even some of the teachers from Nagaland saw a computer for the first time during the visit.
Awed: The students and even some of the teachers from Nagaland saw a computer for the first time during the visit.

They plan to gift computers to schools in Nagaland and call teachers from the state to the city to learn to operate the machines so they can teach their students.

The group, which consisted of 13 teachers in all, including two from Gujarat, were participating in the ‘People-to-People Programme for National Integration and Faculty Exchange Programme’, an initiative of Nagaland Governor P B Acharya and had reached the state on May 9. Some of the teachers from the group had also been called by CM Devendra Fadnavis for a meeting ahead of their departure.

A city teacher conducts an art class, with a focus on Warli art
A city teacher conducts an art class, with a focus on Warli art

Broad strokes
The teachers, three of whom were from the Vidyanidhi group of institutes, four from the Gopal Sharma International School in Powai, four from other city schools and two from Gujarat, visited 26 schools and interacted with around 4,000 students from economically weak backgrounds and their families in Peren, Jalukie, Dimapur and Kohima.

Sanjeev Mantri, chairman of Upanagar Shikshan Mandal, which runs the Vidyanidhi group of institutes, and was among those who went to Nagaland, said, “The main aim was to create the possibility of exchange of ideas among the two states. More than teaching, the trip focused on building relationships with the students and various families.”

“In most of the schools, the teachers themselves hadn’t seen a computer and, hence, we have asked them to come to Mumbai, learn to operate computers and teach their students. We are working out plans of arranging not just computers but also computer classes as this is going to be a continuous process for us,” said Mantri.

Savita Thakur, director of Vidyanidhi Info Tech Academy (VITA), who was also part of the exchange, said, “Tourists visit just the popular places and not the rural, tribal areas. We interacted with students from Std V to VIII in Peren, Jalukie, Dimapur and Kohima. The trip made us understand their need for computer education.”

“The students showed keen interest in learning new things. The teachers were receptive and cooperative. But the lack of IT infrastructure in the schools needs to be addressed. We got a chance to learn about the culture, languages, folklore and music of Nagaland and will tell our students in Mumbai about it. We also shared the unique art, music and culture of Maharashtra, including Warli art, with the children of Nagaland,” she added.

Unique approach
The students from Nagaland also made greeting cards during the classes, that were brought back to Mumbai by the teachers and have been sent out to prominent people across the country.

“The main aim behind this was to make the students feel special. When the replies to these greetings reach the maker, a line of communication will have been established and it will affect their approach towards the other states of the country.

We came up with the greeting card idea after we realised that this was the first ever time they were interacting with someone who wasn’t a local and that they were keen on knowing about people from other parts of the country,” said Nitin Gorule from Vidyanidhi school, who conducted art classes for the students, including one on Warli art.

Health camps
A team of doctors associated with the Rotary Club of Mumbai (North) also visited the state with the teachers and conducted health camps in various parts of Nagaland.

Transformed

After hearing about the exchange programme, Pooja Kamath, a chemical engineering professional from Baroda, decided to quit her job and dedicate herself full-time to promoting cultural exchange between Gujarat and Nagaland.

Principalspeak
These activities were the first of their kind that not only the children but even we experienced. The Warli art and computer classes were something new for us. The children have responded positively and we wish to continue such exchange programmes with Mumbai.
— Meyisenla Lima, principal, Government Middle School, Naharbari village, Dimapur

It was an experience of a lifetime for all the teachers. Both parties interacted very well. The students have tremendous talent but need to be trained better and get access to computer facilities. Though the students are shy, they have a lot of potential and are very keen on learning new things. Rotary Club had sponsored the education program for school. Subjects like English, Science, Maths and Hindi were taught by teachers from Gopal Sharma International School and Maneckji Cooper School.
— Gool Ghadiali, principal of Gopal Sharma International School, Powai, who headed the group of teachers

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