Imphal: Nongmaithem Gautam Singh, a 49-year-old government primary teacher at Eastern Ideal High School in Manipur’s Imphal West district, was conferred the prestigious National Teachers Award 2022 by President Droupadi Murmu on the occasion of the Teachers’ Day celebration in New Delhi.
He was awarded for his innovative ideas and creative skills while teaching his students colourful art and converting the blackboard into a chalk-free whiteboard.
“I felt so good when they called out my name, my school and especially the motherland Manipur at the award ceremony. I was so happy and excited at that particular moment,” said Nongmaithem.
A highly committed primary teacher, Nongmaithem, a resident of Palace Compound in Imphal East, joined the teaching profession in 2011 with hopes of giving it back to society. However, he was taken aback when he found that only a few students came to school during his first posting as a primary teacher at Tangkham Primary School at Khundrakpam in Imphal East.
“When I joined the school, I was shocked to see that there were just a few students admitted to the school and most classroom walls were in dilapidated condition. I then decided to do something about the state of education,” said the National Teachers’ awardee currently posted at Eastern Ideal High School.
Despite the disappointment, Nongmaithem, the father of young two boys, strives for his mission to provide quality education to the young students of the locality.
“I used to speak to the local people and requested them to send their kids to school. And after a week of my joining, we got a few more students admitted to the school,” he said.
Talking about why joyful learning is an advantage for the students, Nongmaithem, who devised a mechanism of innovative learning out of trash, said, “Instead of following the traditional teaching methods, I taught my students using rhymes, songs and even paper crafts. So once the students were familiarised with the classroom structure, I started teaching them from the textbooks. Within two months, I got 33 more students in the school,” he added.
Nongmaithem focused on teaching the students using waste as a tool to teach different concepts. However, all the innovative ideas and concepts, he said, were inspired by his students over the years.
“During my posting at Haoreibi Junior High School in Imphal West, my students used to put up everything they have drawn on the wall, so I recived a complaint by the headmaster since I was the Class teacher. But I told him that this is a platform where the students express their ideas and views since we don’t give them enough platform to express their viewpoints,” said Nongmaithem.
“Without my students, I’ll not be able to innovate anything. They gave me the idea to innovate while going through the transition of teaching-learning. Through them, I gained how to make teaching materials, including the eco-friendly bulletin board and whiteboard,” he said.
Nongmaithem constantly shared the activities of his students and various innovative teaching ideas on the Facebook group ‘Let’s go to school and teach a lesson‘.
The whiteboard mission was initiated in 2015 with the aim to convert the blackboards in the classrooms into a chalk-free whiteboards for the students.
“The idea was shared on Facebook and I received immense response from others. So, I hired a carpenter and from the money donated by well-wishers, I made about 50-60 white boards and distributed it to 16 schools, including those in Ukhrul district,” added Nongmaithem.
He added that a few like-minded government school teachers have come forward and formed a team as the ‘Teachers’ Volunteer Team (TVT)’. And so far, the team has painted around 150 schools voluntarily on Sundays and other holidays.
“Our mission is to lift the image of government schools in the state,” he said.
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