Amid pandemic, students in Punjab log into online summer camps to express themselves

The event, which was initially supposed to be organised for a duration of one week to 10 days, has become such a hit with students that requests have poured in by the dozen and the duration of these virtual summer camps had to be increased.

For students enrolled in government schools of Punjab, the summer break (that began on June 1) this year is much-anticipated and promises to be different.

After being cooped up at home for several months, submitting daily assignments and attending classes virtually, in the wake of a deadly pandemic sweeping through the state, the students are finally getting to express themselves through courtesy the ‘Online Summer Camps’, a first-of-its-kind initiative, started by the state education department.

The event, which was initially supposed to be organised for a duration of one week to 10 days, has become such a hit with students that requests have poured in by the dozen and the duration of these virtual summer camps had to be increased.

The idea behind such camps, officials said, was to give the students a break from their daily academic work, which tends to become monotonous, as well as to provide them with a virtual platform to express their creativity through art, song, dance, yoga, meditation, mono acting and various other such fun activities. The students need to make videos or take photos of them indulging in any fun activity and send them online to their respective teachers.

Giving more details, teachers said that they have been given certain topics by the state on which activities are conducted. Everyday, one competition on a particular topic is organised and students of each class participate in them through Zoom calls. The students make their own videos of the topic and send these to their respective class in-charges. The teachers then select three winners on the basis of such videos.

“We started this virtual camp on June 1, for a week. But now, we have decided to continue it throughout the summer vacation because children wanted more of it as they were finding it very interesting,” said Kiran Sharma, who teaches Hindi at Government Senior Secondary School, Lamma Pind, which has over 700 students from Class 6 to Class 12.

“Earlier also we used to organise summer camps, which has been running in all government schools for some years now. But this year, it is different. For the very first time, these camps have moved online and almost every student is participating in it as they are all stuck at home and cannot go travelling as before,” Sharma said.

Rahul, a student in the school where Sharma teaches, added that the virtual camp was an opportunity for him to learn new skills.

“I am enjoying the Online Summer Camp and have learnt yoga, meditation so far. I also participate in all competitions organised by my class teacher. These new activities has not only ended my boredom, but it has also taught us several new things. Our teachers hand us a lot of activities on a daily basis and we are learning so many new things, like environment-based paintings. We even had a dance competition and then got to look at other people’s dance videos and learn from them,” said Rahul, a Class 7 student. He added that the camp will leave him recharged when regular online classes resume later.

Khushpreet Kaur, another Class 7 student of Government High School Abdal (Abdal), said that she was very fond of dancing and in the summer camp has participated in several competitions and garnered a lot of compliments, which makes her feel confident. She even shared one of her dance videos, where she said she had performed really well.
Ranjana, a Class 8 student, on the other hand, said her interest was in the singing competitions.

“The initiative is aimed at overall development of students and to bring in qualitative improvement in government school education. Earlier summer camps used to be organised only in private schools. It has become a big thing for government schools now ever since being introduced some years ago,” said Shivani, who teaches Mathematics at Government High School, Sheikhe Pind in Jalandhar.

Another teacher, choosing anonymity, said that all credit for the online camps must go to Punjab education secretary, Krishan Kumar, who is also the brain behind the online classes that are being held.

State source person for English, Chander Shekhar, said that these camps are being held in all the government schools of the state for students of pre-primary classes to those in Class 12. “A majority of teachers are coming forward voluntarily to hold these camps. The creativity of students in these camps has been excellent. We had never imagined that our students wre so talented and creative,” Shekhar said.

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