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A theatre practitioner and an eco activist, meet Narayan and Sapna, the two Karnataka teachers touching the lives of students

The 30 minute drama featured students from his high school, while Bhagwat scripted and scored music for the same.

Karnataka‚Äč :- ‘I love my students, I love my profession, I love my students as much as my children’- this is what drives Narayan Parameshwar Bhagwat (55) in ‘infotaining’ students in Kannada and theatre. Bhagwat is one of the two teachers from Karnataka selected for the prestigious National Award for this year. Bhagwat is a Kannada teacher at Shri Marikamba Government PUC High School, Sirsi in Uttara Kannada which houses a total of 1529 students accounting for the school with the highest number of students in Karnataka.

Bhagwat is a theatre practitioner who specialises in children’s theatre. He is a four time winner of Prathibha Karanji, a program involving cultural and literary competitions at cluster, block, and district and state levels. He was also awarded the best director award last year by the ministry of science and technology for a science drama titled ‘Story of Vaccine’ chronicling the journey of vaccine discovery from Edward Jenner to the Indian saints. The 30 minute drama featured students from his high school, while Bhagwat scripted and scored music for the same.
In addition, Bhagwat conducts Sunday Theatre Class for his students where he trains his students in acting, after hours. His plays are a mix bag of subjects ranging from science to literature and social science. In fact, during the pandemic lockdown Bhagwat mobilized Kannada teachers across the state to send voice notes in the form of drama related to Kannada chapters. “I wanted to make learning fun and dramatic during the lockdown. I collated voice notes sent by all Kannada teachers across the state and weaved it into different episodes of online drama. These included some of the lessons in Kannada language expressed in dramatic and artistic form. About 10 episodes were uploaded on YouTube for students to watch and learn,” said Bhagwat.
In addition, Bhagwat also encourages students to publish their own monthly newspaper documenting the series of important events held in the last 30 days in school. “I tell students to report on stories of their friends who have achieved in sports, academics, highlight important events held in school, among other activities. The idea is to improve their vocabulary in Kannada and also help them understand the importance of journalism. I want my students to be able to make independent decisions, form opinions, able to speak in public spaces through such activities,” says Bhagwat who also conducts KBC-like quiz for students on Kannada literature, teaches art and craft and Kannada calligraphy.

Some of his notable dramas also include Belaku Hanchida Balaka – a play based on Dr BR Ambedkar’s childhood; Naanu Gandhi Aguthene- a play based on the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi; Rekke Katuvira- a play based on US-Japan war centered around the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima-Nagasaki; Sakala Kurithu- a play based on public awareness of reaping benefits of government’s schemes.
A native of Bagalkot in North Karnataka, Sapna Shrishail Anigol (47) is a science teacher at KLE Society’s SCP Jr College High School, Bagalkot, who is passionately driving the students towards sustainability. A staunch torch bearer of reusable and recyclable products, Anigol blends real life incidents and activities to teach science to students. From as simple as human beings drinking water to the process of plants making its own food through photosynthesis, Anigol makes science learning fun and engaging with her unique pedagogy.
“I don’t teach students science. Instead I help them experience. I don’t teach metabolism or the process of digestion through scientific terms, instead I make them understand about the digestive system through real life examples. I believe that teaching students in simplified yet practical ways will allow them to comprehend the concept much better. It will also help them face competency based questions in examinations,” says Anigol. She also adds that, “I always imbibe the sense of nationalism and state pride among my students while teaching.”
To ensure a clean surrounding, Anigol also hosts a competition asking students to collect the plastic waste around the school. The student whose plastic collection weighs the most, is awarded a prize. “The idea is not to give them a cash prize or an award. It is to help them realise the amount of waste surrounding them. It is to drive home a message of keeping the surroundings clean. Sometimes students have come up to me with plastic weighing 25-30kg,” said Anigol.
She also calls upon parents to volunteer themselves in preparing cotton bags. “ I give them (parents) cotton cloth and a thread for them to stitch cotton bags. I later distribute these cotton bags in the village with the help of scouts and guides to advocate the need for reusable and sustainable products. I am also a strong advocate of using steel bottles and I advise students and the villagers against using plastic products,” said Anigol. For her contributions to sustainable living she was also elected as the brand ambassador as part of Swaccha Sarvekshana for her village this year in January.

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