School of Innovation: Kashmir Teacher Uses Waste Material to Teach Poor Kids, Picked for National Award


School of Innovation: Kashmir Teacher Uses Waste Material to Teach Poor Kids, Picked for National Award

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

Learning never stops, so the maxim goes. And Roohi Sultana, a teacher from Kashmir, embodies this principle with her approach to education, by discovering innovative ways to teach students in her classroom as well as continuing to impart lessons online through the lockdown. Sultana has been nominated for the National Teachers Award 2020, along with 47 other educators, to receive the prestigious honour at a ceremony presided over by President Ram Nath Kovind on September 5, Teacher’s Day.

Sultana, who is 49 years old, incorporates recycled material into her lessons, turning empty wrappers, plastic boxes, sawdust, and tea leaves into teaching tools. Speaking to The Print, Sultana said, “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.” Incorporating art and play-based learning into her teaching methods, Sultana’s methods are a hit with students, especially those who might find the cost of notebooks and registers prohibitive.

Sultana has been a teacher since 2008, and has continued to impart learning even through the lockdown. Working as a content creator for the Board of School Education, Kashmir, Sultana produces radio education programmes that aid in distance learning and community education. These measures have been a boon for students in areas with poor internet connectivity in Kashmir.

After being selected for the National Teachers Award, Sultana dedicated the victory to her peers in the teaching fraternity as well as her students, who come from classes 1 to 8. Sultana sets an inspiring example of how education can take place in any setting, not just formal classrooms and lecture halls.