A Mathematics teacher enables ICT (Information and Communication technology services) based learning in a small school in Uttarakhand and makes the school a sought-after one. The Intel® Teach Program is aimed at improving teacher effectiveness through professional development, helping teachers integrate technology into their lessons.
By Rusen Kumar
Forest fires cause widespread damage to vegetation and animal life. But is there a way to contain them? This question was put to high school students of the Government Inter College (GIC), Dudhli in Uttarakhand by their teacher Jagdamba Prasad Dobhal. The students explored the topic and found that fire lines are used to contain forest fires. A patch of land through the forest is cleared of bushes, which ensures that the fire cannot spread beyond it. The students visited the forest near their village and studied how they could create a fire line. They used Google Maps to figure out where they could have a fire line. With the help of the Forest Department, they made a fire line that was 10 m wide and 8 km long. The Forest Department sent an appreciation letter to the school, saying that such efforts should be replicated by schools across the country, as they helped raise awareness on how forest fires happen and spread.
This is indeed a huge achievement for any school, more so for a small school in a village 20 km from Dehradun. A school with fewer than 300 students, and one which has limited resources. But Mathematics teacher Dobhal does not think that resource limitation should come in the way of what can be done to enable better learning. Technology is the way to that. And ever since the Intel Teach training he attended in 2002, he has tried to make learning more comprehensive and easy using ICTs.
It was at the Intel Teach training that Dobhal saw a computer for the first time in his life. But it immediately opened his mind to the huge learning potential that computers could bring to a classroom. At the time, he was posted at the Government Inter College, Nainbagh, Tehri Garhwal. One of the first things he did to ease administration issues was to create admission records of all students from 1972 till 2005, the year he left the school. With these records in place, old students looking for certificates and other data could easily be assisted by the school.
One day while riding on his scooter during the summer, he saw a landslide happen. Landslides are usually associated with monsoons, but this occurrence got him thinking. He decided to take the project based approach to help the community figure out what could be the reasons behind the landslides, and if there were some things they could keep in mind to reduce their occurrence. He got his students to collect data and photographs of all the landslides in the region in the past few years. He took them to those sites and got them to interview people residing there. Students spoke to people who were impacted by the landslides and got a firsthand feel of the damage. In their exploration, they found out that most of the landslides that had happened in recent years were because of some human generated activity, like the construction of roads, deforestation, fires, etc. This project bagged a prize in Aarohan 2004, a competition organized by the Uttarakhand government with Intel’s support.
Teaching, Against All Odds
Soon after, Dobhal was transferred to GIC, Dudhli, a village closer to Dehradun. Dudhli is more accessible from the state capital, but the school had limited resources. Dobhal sought permission to start using technology for teaching. The principal agreed, but told him that he would have to find the resources himself. After much fund raising effort, he managed to get four black and white TV sets and a DVD player for the school in 2006. He started by playing educational CDs for the students so they could learn from resources other than their books.
Over time, he got a computer and dialup connection at the school. With this, he was able to expose the students to more information, and other interesting material related to the topics being covered. He started encouraging the students to participate in various science fairs. Students started taking an interest and browsing the Internet to look for information for their science projects. The results were astounding. From absolutely no participation till then in various science fairs, the school now ranks amongst the topmost when any such fairs are held. Students started being selected at the state fairs to compete at the national level. The reputation of the school started to grow.
Intel® Teach’s Project Based Learning Program
The Intel® Teach Program is aimed at improving teacher effectiveness through professional development, helping teachers integrate technology into their lessons. The program promotes students’ problem-solving, critical thinking, and collaboration skills. Having reached 1.3 million teachers in India and trained more than 7 million teachers in 50 countries, Intel Teach is the largest, most successful program of its kind.
Transformation In Progress
Dobhal has been using ICTs in classrooms for almost a decade now. What are his achievements? He says there are three main achievements. One was the increase in enrolments at the school, especially when other government school enrolments are on the decline. From 240 students in 2006, the school now has 294 students. “In fact, students who were slated to join high profile public schools chose to join our school,” he says.
The second achievement, which is a matter of great pride for the school, is the jump in the pass percentage. Earlier, the school saw pass percentages which were well below 30%. Today, the pass percentage for board-level exams is 80-90%.
The third achievement is the widespread participation in co-curricular activities by the school students.
A single teacher can bring in such tremendous change in a school, despite having limited resources to begin with. Today, the school is equipped with high end computers, a projector and broadband connectivity, and has been termed a Smart School by the Department of Science and Technology. That’s why Dobhal won the state level Best Teacher award in 2009, and followed it up with the President’s Award in 2010.
Currently, Dobhal is busy creating a Mathlab for class IX and X, and he has motivated his students to work with him on it, using a project based approach. He aims to make this Mathlab a role model for the state. And if he needs help, he just speaks to the team at Intel, who are always willing to help him out.
School: Government Inter College, Dudhli, Uttarakhand
Teacher: Jagdamba Prasda Dobhal, teaches Mathematics to class VI-X
Projects Impacting Community
Landslides and their causes
Creating a fire line in a forest
School’s enrolment has improved
Pass percentage has gone from below 30% to over 80%
School is now well known for its co-curricular activities