Post Box: A teacher’s simple solution to students’ critical problems
This ZIIEI innovation has helped teacher Laden Pulger to bring the children out of their shells and report any issues troubling them, including sexual abuse.
Incidents of sexual abuse, eve teasing and other stress-related issues troubling students led Laden Pulger to find a solution that was simple yet effective enough for students to express their concerns without hesitation or fear.
This Social Studies and English teacher at the Government Junior High School in East Sikkim district introduced a postbox in her class to encourage students to find answers by posting letters to the teachers or friends they want to reach out to. In the ZIIEI Innovations Handbook, this innovation has been hence termed as ‘My Postbox, My Voice’.
These letters, sometimes anonymous, are about reporting any unpleasant incident they faced or ask questions to the teacher about deeper meanings of things children observe, about a complicated situation in a story they have read in the class, or these letters can be to say ‘thank you’ or ‘sorry’ to classmates. The most important aspect is that the Postbox makes children feel comfortable while sharing even the disturbing incidents of sexual abuse or difficult situations in family or neighbourhood.
“Where I found it most useful was in tackling stray eve teasing incident in the school. Children, especially girls, feel hesitant and embarrassed while talking about such occurrences. I counsel and ask the students not to write their names if they are not comfortable with it,” Pulger said. “In today’s world children are very vulnerable and are exposed to all kinds of anti-social elements. If we do not advise them, they can be exploited. We have to control the situation before the matter goes out of hand.” she added.
Pulger is happy that her method, started in 2017, is bearing fruits. According to her, students are coming up with lot of queries and “we try to provide solutions to all of them.”
Her school has a strength of 120 students where 60 percent of them are girls.
The teacher is one of the innovators of Zero Investment Innovation for Education Initiatives (ZIIEI). She had submitted her idea to ZIIEI during the teacher orientation sessions in her block and, as a result, it was selected and featured in the Innovations Handbook released on 5 Sept 2018. This means that in the next few months, as this book reaches every school in the state, Pulger will see her small idea bringing about a big change in hundreds of other schools.
ZIIEI was launched in Sikkim in Feb 2018. Over 7,000 teachers were oriented to the concept of zero-investment innovations and Pulger’s idea was chosen from among 4,500 plus ideas submitted by the participants.