Thursday, January 13, 2022

Reena, The Manager of Home and Panchayati Samiti: Priyanka Kaushik

The Manager of Home and Panchayati Samiti

An army personnel’s wife, a mother, a teacher, and an edu-leader -Reena easily juggles all these roles. She is a native of village Nariyana in Jamui district, Bihar. Along with her fellowship, she has been a member of the Panchayat Samiti of her village since 2017. She has three children and her eldest daughter is studying in class 5. 

Panchayat Samiti’s important functions are agriculture, land improvement, watershed development, social and farm forestry, and technical and vocational education. As part of her role, Reena has to visit block offices, solve the community’s problems and help in the implementation of public policies. The reason she joined this fellowship was that the cause is very close to her heart. She shared that she always wanted to be a teacher – she even has a B.Ed. degree. The fellowship sessions, particularly the learning circle session, gave her theoretical knowledge of government schemes like MGNREGA, Pradhan Mantri Indira Awas Yojana, filling the forms for AADHAR card and other government schemes. She thanks her family and in-laws for providing the required support to pursue this intense two-year fellowship.

The school in her community Nariyana already has a sufficient number of teachers so she went to a school in the nearby village Singaritad to teach students. There she got immense support from the headmaster and teachers. They gave her a free hand and she was able to use her pedagogy skills to teach – such as teaching with storytelling, real-life examples, phonics, and reciting poems. 

To persuade her students to maintain cleanliness, hygiene, and a positive environment, she started sweeping the school’s floor. This continued for just three days because the teachers and headmaster were not in favor of her doing this. It worked and the students started taking care of hygiene and the cleanliness of the school premises. 

A community woman (in the middle with her three children) sharing her children’s progress with Reena (extreme right)

A girl named Sonam Kumari, studying in 5th standard would complete her homework before the entire class. She became a role model for other students. When Reena made her the monitor of the class, there was competition among the students to do more, learn more, and practice more. 

When teaching English, Reena would teach common words using actions, such as eat, sleep, run, repeat, cry and smile. Students would practice these at home. The parents of one of the students, Rakesh Kumar, made a special visit to the school to share their happiness with the teacher – they were proud to hear their child speak a word in English. 

Reena is thankful to her mentor Smriti who helped her study English and Mathematics in the buddy talk sessions conducted during the fellowship. Buddy talk is a process designed to strengthen the buddy (mentor) and edu-leader’s relationship while tracking the progress of the ongoing processes, such as recent learning, achievements, incidents that were rare, fears, dreams, wishes, and any support they need from their buddies. 

Reena shared that it wasn’t a cakewalk for her to complete the fellowship; there were days when she had to get ready and prepare for meetings for both i-Saksham and Panchayat Samiti. Fortunately, her family, especially her mother-in-law supported her throughout the journey – Reena owes her for all the support. Her husband has been supportive since the time they got married. Reena had studied till class 10th, but her husband encouraged her to study further. She completed her 12th in 2009. As she wanted to become a teacher, she completed her graduation and B.Ed. in the year 2018 after having children. Currently, she is preparing for the teacher eligibility test CTET. 

 Priyanka Kaushik is handling communications at i-Saksham.

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