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Kashmir teacher, who uses scrap material to educate poor kids, selected for national award

Roohi Sultana is among 47 educators who have been selected for the prestigious National Teachers Award 2020. She has been selected for her innovative teaching methods.

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New Delhi: Roohi Sultana, a teacher at the BMS Kashipora in Srinagar, believes in what she calls a “low cost-no cost” method of teaching her students, many of whom come from low income families of Bakarwal and Gujjar communities in Jammu and Kashmir.

Sultana is among 47 educators in the country who have been selected for the prestigious National Teachers Award 2020, which will be conferred by President Ram Nath Kovind in a virtual ceremony on 5 September.

Buying notebooks and registers are an expensive affair, said 49-year-old Sultana, who has discovered innovative ways of teaching. She often goes from one shop to the other in Srinagar collecting waste materials, plastic covers, sawdust and even used tea leaves. She then uses them in creative ways to make learning fun for her students.

“Used plastic covers of wheat flour can be used to write for practice. I write nouns, and word-meaning on used bottles. I write words on toffee rappers and ask kids to arrange them. I also create shapes and letters from sawdust and dried tea leaves while using them as clay,” Sultana told ThePrint.

Small plastic containers used to create alphabet boxes | By special arrangement

She strongly believes that art integrated learning is essential for students. “I use the play-way method. The kids really get involved in this process of learning. I am merely a facilitator, but it fills my heart with joy to see their creativity take shape through the teaching,” she said, while adding that she always sits with her students on the floor.

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‘Couldn’t submit form on time due to poor internet services’

A teacher since 2008, Sultana has a number of degrees and qualifications to her name.

While she has a Masters degree in Kashmiri and Urdu, she also did a degree course in calligraphy and certificate course in Hindi from various institutes in Srinagar. She also has a diploma in inclusive education from the Bhoj University of Madhya Pradesh.

She is also a content creator in the Board of School Education, Kashmir. During the lockdown period, Sultana said, she has been creating radio education programmes for children and reaching out to students for community learning, especially in places where internet or android phones are in low availability.

Roohi Sultana (extreme left) with her students | By special arrangement
Roohi Sultana (extreme left) with her students | By special arrangement

Talking about the award, Sultana said, “My friend had first submitted the form for the award and told me only later. But it could not be submitted by the last date due to poor internet services. Later, we got to know that the submission date was extended, and I then submitted the form.”

Sultana dedicated the award to the teaching fraternity and her students. While she teaches students from class 1 to 8, she said she can “connect better” with the younger lot as they are more open to newer ideas and avenues.

The National Teachers Awards is given to celebrate the unique contributions made by educators in the country who have not only improved the quality of school education but also enriched the lives of their students.

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  1. I am overwhelmed to read her story of innovative methods she uses in teaching. I wish her success in her endeavors. God bless her.

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