Will you go this far for your students? We bet, you won’t?
Meet Annapurna Mohan, a primary school teacher, who challenged the status quo of her school, sold her jewellery to buy better furniture, books and a digital smart board for her class – all because she wanted to give her students a solid foundation for a better future.
She wanted to become a doctor just like her father. But were a few marks short of getting a seat. Then on the suggestion of her father, she decided to become a teacher – a profession she hated. Her dislike plus her inability to cope with the government school culture pushed her to take up BCA as well as MBA-HR through correspondence. After the completion of these courses (together the two took her five years to complete), she was in a dilemma whether to opt for a corporate life or continue as a teacher. “In these five years, I fell in love with my students. Here, I was interacting with lively children, while change of job meant dealing with computers. So, I decided to remain a teacher,” recollects Annapurna Mohan who teaches class 3 students in the Panchayat Union Primary School (PUPS), Kandhadu in Tamil Nadu.
“I don't know why people are so surprised. What I did was my duty towards my students. I want the best for them. I can buy jewellery again but education is important"
This is when she also decided to do a research to find out why government school students are unable to perform well in life. To her dismay, she discovered that even if students were lucky to get a job, they wouldn’t go too far as they lacked the necessary communication skills in english needed to succeed in job. “The problem with schools here is that every subject is taught in tamil including the english language. In fact, teaching english in english is a miracle here,” she explains, adding, “I decided to teach my students in the english language. My colleagues laughed at me, some even discouraged me, but I was determined to follow my path. I would bring four tablets, laptop and smartphones with me every day and use them to teach my students. Also, I began to speak in english with my students. For 2.5 months, I continued to speak in english even though I knew my students are unable to follow me. But, gradually, they started responding.”
Mohan, who is primarily an english teacher, prepared her own material and a CD to teach her class. She teaches english through phonetic sounds. “I convert my lessons into skits or drama which are then enacted by students. The outcome has been excellent,” she said.
Since the infrastructure of the school was inadequate, and despite requests, no funds were released for the betterment of infrastructure, Mohan decided to sell her own assets, mainly jewellery, to raise money. With this money, she bought colourful furniture, a digital smart board, and books for her students. However, for Mohan, selling her jewellery to buy school infrastructure was no big deal. “I don’t know why people are so surprised. What I did was my duty towards my students. I want the best for them. I can buy jewellery again but education is important,” she explains.
"If there is good infrastructure in school and students are taught english properly, then there is no reason why they should lag behind"
“There should be no divide between rich and poor when it comes to education. I think why government schools are not doing well is because of their attitude. If there is good infrastructure and students are taught english properly, then there is no reason why they should lag behind,” the proud teacher explains.
Encouraged by her selfless service, she was recently honoured by the state government. Also, to ensure that her students don’t suffer once they go to higher classes, the administration has asked her to teach english to students of class 4 and 5 from next year.