Brig. P. K. Hoogan (Retd.)

After my retirement from Army, I settled in Chandigarh. UT Chandigarh Administration wanted volunteers to teach in Government schools. I applied for it and was selected. I joined a school near to my residence.

When I went to my assigned class, I found the class was overcrowded. There were about 50 students, both boys and girls whereas there should be 40 students. At some places, three students were sitting on a bench, which is meant to seat two students. The class room condition was just satisfactory. Yet, it was difficult to write on the blackboard due to its poor quality. I came to know that most of students were from weaker section of society. There was no fee below class ten. They were provided with mid-day meals also. Books and uniforms were also given by the school.   

About 80% students were not interested in study. They were noisy. They would not study nor would allow others to study. It was very difficult to control them. I had to resort to punish them and asked noisy students to stand behind the class. Girls behaved better than boys. Girls were more interested to study. I could motivate some students to study hard and rise in their lives. A few students showed interest to become engineer, doctors, IPS officers, Army officers etc.

According to Government policy, a student is promoted to next class right from class one to next higher class  whether one is eligible or not. I found that a student of class 9 was not able to read and write elementary Hindi, English and could not solve basic Maths questions.

I planned to concentrate on rest 20% students who were interested to study and had satisfactory performance.

I asked interested students to come to my residence to study. I had a group of about 4-5 students and started teaching them. Benefit was that environment at my residence was far peaceful and under control. Students who were serious and better than other came to my place to study. I had reading session of Hindi and English classes. I demonstrated to them the advantage of talking and using dictionary while teaching English lesson.


a.       Due to onset of COVID-19 in Mar 2020, regular classes in Chandigarh schools were suspended. I started taking classes for my students on-line using my laptop computer and mobile phone. Fortunately, most of my students had their independent mobile phones. This had the positive and negative effects. I could continue teaching them without coming into physical contact with my students; they were not needed to travel to come to me and we could continue education in all adverse conditions, including weather. The negative points were lack of direct interaction, disturbance due to outside elements, especially at the students’ end. As my students generally come from weaker section of society, the noisy environment at student’s residence and their neighbourhood caused nuisance.  Sometime, the signal strength of the internet was weak and it effected the teaching adversely.


b.       Now effect of COVID-19 has gone down and schools are reopening again gradually. Personalized teaching has also been permitted. Students have started coming to me for learning. I hope that situation will improve.

Summary: I applied as volunteer teacher out of gratitude for the contentment in life. Imarting education, beyond children in the family and grandchildren, has turned out to be a spiritual experience. Most of us are at that stage of life when we have satisfaction of having done our best for the family and seeing it grow on sound footing. At such times a selfless commitment in grooming capability among deprived ones, through education, infuses a will to continue to do our best. It helps to take age related constraints as a natural consequence not worth worrying about.



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