A government teacher’s earnest crusade for girl child education
With Thoutam Niharika, the question isn’t why teach? But why not? Why not opt to teach in remote government schools? Why not dedicate oneself to the cause of girl child education? All these questions have led this Math teacher, who teaches at Zilla Parishad High School, Gorrekunta, Warangal, Telangana, to explore so many avenues.
The high school teacher decides to tell us her story from the time when she worked as an Assistant Officer, Girl Child Development, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan from 2009 to 2013. She was incharge of drafting proceedings and monitoring the percentage of girls studying in 352 government schools. One of the many things she enabled was accompanying girls to a five-day vocational training workshop at NIFT. She was even working on setting up early education centres for girl children under the Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV), a residential secondary school for girls. In this way, the cause of girl child education grew closer to her heart. “After I came to Gorrekunta, I continued to work for the cause. Two instances come to mind, once when I had to rush to stop a child marriage and even involve the police. The second was adolescent infatuation, where the girl was so utterly heartbroken that she wanted to die by suicide,” shares the Fulbright Scholar.
As a Fulbright Scholar, she pursued the International Leadership programme from Arizona State University.
Since December 2018, in collaboration with the alumni of the schools, this teacher has been arranging sanitary napkins for her school girls. “During the lockdown, I would visit as many of them as I could every three months and help them stock up on pads. Alternatively, I would request them to visit the school on one predetermined day and collect the pads,” she shares. She has also purchased two Google Home devices for her school. Ask her why and pat comes the reply, “Students are scared of asking teachers questions, especially when the questions are silly. Or sometimes, they are afraid to get the pronunciation of English words wrong. So Google Home removes the fear factor and encourages them to simply ask, no matter what,” she explains. The more we think about it, the more sense this starts to make! She is also conscious of the fact that the proverbial Math teachers are strict and relentless, so she consciously tries to subvert that image by being open and interactive. That’s where her ever-smiling and friendly demeanour comes from. Now, coming to Niharika’s classroom, it’s as colourful and inviting as it could be. Multiplication tables splashed across the walls, vibrant charts and so much more. “What I try to drive in them is that without Math, life gets difficult. Learning Math helps make real-life situations easier,” she informs. Even the simple colourful cardboard pieces she uses to teach fractions are a delight to her students.
I believe multiplication tables is key, once the child knows the tables from 1 to 20, they get a certain confidence that they can apply to other areas of Math,” she says, with 22 years of teaching experience dripping from every word. She has an MSc in Psychology from Kakatiya University and now, she is pursuing a course in Guidance and Counselling from Regional Institute of Education, Mysur so that along with being an effective teacher to the students, she can be a friend and a confidant as well.
This is Thoutam Niharika a high school Math teacher, a Fulbright of ILEP-USIEF 2018, Telangana State Best Teacher awardee for the year 2021. Recipient of USIEF (United States – India Educational Foundation and Fulbright)Teacher Alumni Grant Award for the year 2020 in collaboration with Telangana & Delhi States Project “De-cording Social Media for Sharing and Engaging with Academic and Pedagogic Content” with two other Delhi Counter parts in India. An accomplished high school facilitator and teacher at ZPHS KAMAREDDYGUDEM Devarupala Jangaon Telangana India, who in leisure teaches English communicative skills having over 23 years of Teaching and Administrative experience(Assistant Girl Child Development Officer-SSA (RVM) in Telangana State Government.
“My school exists in a rural area catering to lower income group and under privileged students. I significantly motivate students to tirelessly continue their schooling, and face challenges with boldness and courage notwithstanding. Inspired many rural girls and boys,created interest to attend school for learning. Although the school where I teach in the suburb, gladly took the responsibility of obtaining the basic infrastructure indispensable to education .
To my knowledge, deservedly selected to participate in a Global Teacher Exchange Program in 2018 by USIEF, one among the 64 Government teachers drawn from all over the world and one among the four from India and only one from (Telangana state till now)to participate in the International Leadership Education Program(ILEP) to undertake pedagogical and leadership training at Arizona State University, Arizona, USA in the year 2018. Having a Masters degree in Mathematics, English,Psychology and Education and pursued Certificate & Diploma course in English language at EFLU(Hyd) along with few MOOC courses on various online platforms. I’m lover of learning and currently pursuing Diploma in guidance&counselling course at NCERT-RIE Mysore for Professional Advancement.
Passion for education keeps soaring, so I have notably participated in various national and international Webinars, conferences, online and in person. My dedication to students led me beyond my immediate teaching duties to an appointment as the Assistant Girl Child Development Officer (an executive role) at Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (RVM). In this role, was actively involved in mentoring young girls in rural areas, counselling girls who were out of the schools due to family responsibilities, trauma related to trafficking, child marriage, abuse,and other factors from 2009-2013 and worked to foster the development and implementation of girl child motivation camps,NPEGEL,KGBVs,ECEs under the project, modified the content and adopted various techniques for the students to learn easier ways of attaining comprehension and retention. My can-do attitude and tireless efforts rewarded her the best AGCDO officer at SSA(RVM)Award from the District Collector in 2012. Have presented papers at national and international level,and attended workshops in RIEs,TISS,NCERT,SCERT.
For an elite athlete, who studied in one of the district’s Central Board English medium schools at a city, the choice of a teaching career in the underprivileged government schools in the regional (Telugu) medium was not only unusual but also challenging and had to continuously reinvent and retrain myself based on the needs of her students. To stay up to date, actively participates in an exchange ideas related to educational methodologies, girl child empowerment. Due to the socio-economic conditions of rural schools and helped many students by inviting experts to my school to give away motivational speeches and health camps to the students.
Social Contribution as passion at current stinct.
In my current role, responsible for implementing new learning strategies across multiple subject areas, mentoring teachers, counseling students on challenging life issues, role models, and enriching extra-curricular activities and partnering with external organizations to ensure students have access to learning materials and infrastructure. I could make 2000 school students in around 10 years to provide amenities like health care and basic infrastructure like running water facilities in girls toilets at the ZPHS Gorrekunta school,Reusable sanitary napkins to 8 government schools for about 550 girl students,50 benches,200 school bags,maths teaching aids,sanitary napkins to girls every month from 5 years,100 Steel water bottles,stationary items like 120 geometry boxes,150 writing pads, etc.,decorated my classroom with full of colourful charts,500 library books,google home with audio-visual and a dongle,notebooks every year for about 120 students coming to a total of 1000 books,study material for all subjects of X students,sports material,first aid kits,water purifier, 4 Tables to teachers,Robotics free coaching and training with kits to two students every year, 40 library chairs, 5 fans,5 clocks,painted my classrooms with all the support of my Family and Friends. An asset in instrument onboarding NGO’s and Social Enterprising Organizations i.e., SOCIETY, Rotary Club,Vasavi club,Innerwheel Club, Lions Club,ASCI Hyd, Read to Lead-KRISHI Foundation (an International Organization) for a continuity and permanent donar’s for School and Student developmental programs.
In my 23 year long career, have been an active counselor to underprivileged students and their families and responsible for implementing new learning strategies across multiple subject areas, mentoring teachers, counseling students on challenging life issues, role models, and enriching extra-curricular activities and partnering with external organizations to ensure students have access to learning materials and infrastructure.
I am determined to continue the same “admirable”, “distinguished”, and “effective” contribution in future assignments and stints.”
All the very best to the inspiring teacher Thoutam Niharika!
Happy women’s day!
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