Thirty-nine-year-old Ajay teaches Grade 1 and 2 at the Shaskiya Prathamik Madhyamik Vidyalaya, Khandwa B.B in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh. After he completed his D.Ed. (Diploma in Education) curriculum in 2015 from District Institute of Education and Training District (DIET) Ujjain, he joined as a teacher in the school he currently teaches at in place of his father who had passed away. He says, “I became a teacher by chance. But today, I teach because I want to give my students a solid foundation of learning in their initial years of education.”
Ajay was a student of the first batch (2013-15) of the Necessary Teacher Training (NeTT) programme in Madhya Pradesh. As part of the two-year programme Ajay had gone on a national travel tour to Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu for almost a month. Talking about his experience in a place where communicating to the locals was also a challenge due to linguistic barriers, Ajay says, “That trip prepared me to face any obstacle. Even though we did not speak a common language, we went to the villages and met the local people. On our way back we had an experience of a lifetime. The train had a two-minute stop but due to the rush, half of us couldn’t get on the train. Without thinking we all pulled the chain on the train and the train came to a halt. Soon after the officials arrived and we stood there as a team. Our team leader at the time told us we had nothing to be afraid of neither did we have to lie. It was a very reassuring feeling. I abide by it even today and teach my students the same: When faced with any obstacle, we should never fear. We should fight it with all our honesty.”
The classroom where Ajay teaches has numbers painted in colours on the floor, there are calendars and alphabets painted on the walls. The room was surrounded by knowledge and the children had the brightest smiles, looking forward to their lessons.
As their teacher for all the subjects taught in class, Ajay says, “It is not always that they want to study from the books. I have to keep them attentive and at the same time provide holistic education. So, I teach them things they can use in their day-to-day life. For instance, if they go to a shop and buy something, they should be able to use their skills and count the change and check for the right prices etc. And because of this, more so than before, I have to continue to keep learning so that I can keep them up-to-date.”
Ajay is a graduate of the NeTT Programme which believes in shaping a kind of teacher that provides quality education through the use of activities, teaching-learning material or storytelling. Ajay does not only teach the students academics but also ensures that the students, from a young age, are groomed properly and get into a habit to cut their nails, take daily bath, water the plants around the school etc. He adds, “We share a story every day that speaks about something relevant. Recently we talked about how we should not litter and pick up all the plastic trash around because a cow may eat the plastic which will be harmful for the cow as well as for us when we drink that cow’s milk. These are big issues but we have to try and make it relevant to their life.”
Ajay hopes he can stand by the principles his father stood by and teach his students to give importance to being disciplined and punctual.