Padmaja Ramamurthy, 60 years old, started her career as a primary school teacher in Bengaluru. Little did she know then that the profession she grew to love would not only change her own life but that of the hundreds of children she has taught. Now, at an age when most people have retired, she continues to work enthusiastically to nurture the hopes and dreams of children who have been forgotten by society.Her passion for teaching grew when she shifted to Kolkata. She began to discard traditional modes of teaching and engage students through projects, activities and technology.During her 13-year stint as a teacher, she worked with many different schools – including high-end private schools and poor government ones too.
She would give students projects to do, which would make the learning process more interesting. She used technology, audio-visual tools, multimedia, etc., to keep their interest alive. “In government schools one has to usually dilute even simple things to make the children understand concepts, while in private schools a different approach should be taken,” she says. After retirement, Padmaja did not give up on teaching. She started working with the APSA Dream School, which works with trafficked children.When Padmaja joined the APSA Dream School as an English teacher, she knew it would be a challenging task to help the kids clear exams in the subject as the students were mostly from Kannada medium schools. But her unique style of teaching has helped her students shine in the subject.
APSA runs a one year programme and offers various courses for trafficked and abandoned children. One of the programmes of APSA focuses on child labourers. “The children are often neglected or are orphans so we need to be very careful with them. We cannot be too harsh as they will not be able to learn and we cannot be too soft either, else they will take us for granted,” she says. Another programme of APSA focuses on children of construction workers and follows the pattern of a regular nursery school. Apart from this, APSA also concentrates on migrant children and focuses on bringing those kids to school who are left at home by the parents to take care of younger siblings. “At APSA, we get both the elder kid and the younger sibling who might still be a couple of months old. While the elder kid is encouraged to study, our team takes care of the infant. We have cradle facility, soft toys and many activities to keep the kid engaged,” she says.
Though Padmaja joined APSA as an English teacher, she took up the role of coordinator and plays a key role in implementing all the programmes.In the future, she wants to continue teaching and make APSA a model school for all the non-formal schools. In her free time she reads a lots o books, goes for walks and enjoys time with her family.