Manipur Teachers Wins National Award for Being an Inspiration to Many
Nongmaithem Gautam Singh is a 49-year-old government primary teacher at Eastern Ideal High School in Manipur’s Imphal West district. Recently, he 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 colorful art and converting the blackboard into a chalk-free whiteboard.
Giving and taking inspiration
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.
In an interview, he says, “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’ award currently posted at Eastern Ideal High School.
Despite the disappointment, Nongmaithem, the father of two young boys, strives for his mission to provide quality education to the young students of the locality.
He would speak to the local people and request them to send their kids to school. And after a week of joining the school, he got a few more students admitted.
Talking about why joyful learning is an advantage for the students, Nongmaithem has devised a mechanism of innovative learning out of trash. Instead of following the traditional teaching methods, he teaches students using rhymes, songs and even paper crafts. Once the students are familiarized with the classroom structure, he starts teaching them from the textbooks.
Within two months of joining, he got 33 more students in the school.
Nongmaithem focused on teaching the students using waste as a tool to teach different concepts. However, all the innovative ideas and concepts were inspired by his students over the years.
During his posting at Haoreibi Junior High School in Imphal West, students used to put up everything they have drawn on the wall. He received a complaint from the headmaster as he was the Class teacher.
But Nongmaithem told the principal 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.
Students as an inspiration
“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, he gained knowledge on 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 chalk-free whiteboards for the students. The idea was shared on Facebook and he received immense response from others. Nongmaithem hired a carpenter and from the money donated by well-wishers, he made about 50-60 white boards and distributed them to 16 schools, including those in Ukhrul district.
When all his efforts were rewarded at the National Awards, he was ecstatic. He felt so good when his name was called out, the school’s and especially the motherland Manipur at the award ceremony. Nongmaithem was so happy and excited through the entire ceremony.
Roshini Muthukumar, a native of Chennai, started her career as a content writer but made a switch to journalism to pursue her passion. She has experience writing about human interest stories, innovative technology, entrepreneurs, research blogs, and more. Previously, Roshini has done internships with The Hindu, Metroplus and worked as a correspondent with The Better India.
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