New Delhi: Coronavirus is one of the biggest challenges faced by the world and the global lockdown due to the pandemic is unprecedented. The world lockdown and the need for physical distancing has also impacted Education, which has been suspended due to shutdown of schools and other educational institutions.
The NGO’s ongoing digital cultural education program Virsa impacting approximately 2 crore students across India has been a pioneer in mass distance learning since its inception in 2016. The two-way, real-time interactive classes, which are held daily to disseminate training in 15 different disciplines of performing arts not only transcend geographical boundaries by enabling lakhs of students from different locations of the country to attend these classes live, but also provide students the opportunity to interact with the finest exponents of performing arts who are a part of the Virsa faculty.During the lockdown, while schools have been shut, we have enabled students and encouraged them to attend these classes from the archives of Virsa. While schools have been providing digital classes to students on various platforms, Virsa classes have not only resulted in students spending their time productively and creatively but the focus has been directed towards riyaz and honing their skills during free time. And this is made available to them from the safety of their homes.
Since many don’t have access to internet connectivity and gadgets such as phones and computers at home, the Haryana government has tied up with local cable operators in the state to provide Virsa classes to all the students through their TVs. This has ensured that the cultural education program is not restricted and is available to all in the state in an inclusive manner.
While keeping the students creatively occupied in the safety of their homes, it has been a productive time at the Routes 2 Roots studio for the teachers of India as well.While following the SOPs laid down for the lockdown, Routes 2 Roots in collaboration with Centre for Cultural Resources and Training (CCRT) started a first of its kind online interactive countrywide Teacher Training Program where experts of all fields held sessions for teachers from across India. Unlike web chats, these are mass online interactive sessions addressing hundreds of teachers simultaneously from different locations including North East India, Jammu & Kashmir and all other regions of the country. Hundreds of teachers attend sessions from the safety of their homes while interacting real-time with their instructors in these online classes. Each session saw the leading exponents of art forms and specialists of subjects like Indian Art, Sculpture, Architecture, Monuments, Nutrition and Mental Health and many other topics on Environment and Indian Heritage.
This program has seen teachers from every part of India attending the online classes conducted by the leading experts of their fields. The feedback from teachers has been overwhelming as they go back with insights and knowledge never experienced by them before. The customized software enabling the seamless broadcast of live classes and allowing teachers to interact with experts real-time is a first and is a game changer in these times of physical distancing. It also provides exposure to teachers, which was never possible due to their different locations. The software not only overcomes limitations of geography but also provides access in large numbers.
“Digital education is here to stay and is the future. Routes 2 Roots has pioneered digital education through its program Virsa in the last 4 years. During this pandemic the NGO has taken it to another level by not just training teachers from across India but also keeping students across India engaged through digital classes of performing arts to make the lockdown productive for them.” Routes 2 Roots Founder Rakesh Gupta.
A look at the Teacher Training Sessions undertaken:
The sessions include:
KiranSehgal – Odissi
Amitabh Divakar–Understanding Tangible Heritage – Indian Architecture
NaliniAsthana and KamaliniAsthana – Kathak
Fareed Ahmed Khan – Hindustani Music
Vijay Kumar Mathur–Understanding Indian Art
ArupaLahiri – Bharatnatyam
A K Merchant – Nutrition and Mental Health Post Covid
Sharad Gaur – Good Practice in Waste Management
DrLalitPandey – Role of Archaeology in Preservation of Heritage
Professor VijaylaxmiChouhan – Gender and Culture
DrPremBhandari – Classical Music
DrShailChoyal – Indian Paintings
Dr M P Sharma – Environment Education
Professor N Upender Reddy – Linking Culture with Education
Dr M N Rajesh – Architecture and Sculpture
Professor Jolly Puthuserry–Traditional and Contemporary Indian Theatre
Professor T Vijay Kumar -Indian Languages Literature