Digital Literacy: This Govt School in AP is making waves globally

Students of a Zilla Parishad High School (ZPHS) in a small village are trying to rewrite their future with the help of their English teacher.With the aid of the Skype technology and pen-pal programmes, they are communicating with students of other countries in their attempt to improve their communication skills, especially English language.

Located in a hamlet called Ilavaram, the ZPH school is just five-km away from the mandal headquarters of Bhattiprolu in Guntur district. Teacher at the school, Harikrishna, is imparting training to the students to interact with students and teachers of foreign countries to enhance their prowess in English language. They are picking up different accents as well.

This achievement, experts feel should be an eye-opener for all the government schools. Besides interacting with foreign students, they have been exchanging letters with their counterparts and teachers from 15 countries, including the USA, Canada, Mexico, Sweden, Croatia, Denmark, France, Poland, Tunisia, Japan, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Chile and Turkey. 

More than 300 students have been trained through the initiative in the past two-and-a-half years. Presently, the school has a strength of 530 students but the teachers are giving training to the students of Classes VIII, IX and X.

The aim is to improve the students’ language skills, especially their ability to describe an incident or an experience. Students have also been receiving accolades from the pen-pal countries. The students have so far interacted with more than 200 schools of these countries.

The students of Class 8 of the ZPHS interacted with an experienced teacher, Warren Heart of Canada, and his students. They also had a taste of the Turkish culture as they connected with the students of Class IX of a Turkish public school, who gave a presentation about their culture and development in their country.  They also talked about how their government was giving top priority to education and was given highest allocation in the Turkish government’s budget. 

A music teacher, Mark Oikawa Evans, from Kent of England advised the students to sing English songs so that they could improve upon their language skills. A science teacher Chasity Collier of Alabama of the USA mesmerised the students through demonstration on the subject.

Harikrishna has been bearing all the expenses of the letters posted by the students. However, now some locals and philanthropists have come forward to modernise the Skype room at the school by spending Rs. 1 lakh and making it comparable with the classrooms in western countries.

The students are also receiving presents from other countries, such as books, T-shirts and pens. One of the poorest of the students, P. Prasunamba, is given €30 every month by a Swedish English teacher, N Jonsson. She has assured to invest Rs. 6 lakh for Prasunamba’s education.

This apart, alumni of the school, M. Ramu and G.R. Sekhar provided Rs. 50,000 for modern chairs for the classroom. Sri Lanka’s Gateway College has shown interest in setting up a drinking water facility at the school.

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