National Teachers’ Award: Teaching by heart

- September 5, 2023
| By : Muhammad Tahir |

Arti Qanungo, a Laxmi Nagar government school teacher, opens up about her methods that won her the National Teachers’ Award

President Droupadi Murmu felicitates Arti Qanungo

Arti Qanungo, a teacher from Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya (SKV), Laxmi Nagar, was among the 75 teachers who received the National Teachers’ Award from President Droupadi Murmu in Vigyan Bhawan on Tuesday.

Her innovative ideas and unique method in teaching have been widely acknowledged.

“It’s really important that we build a beautiful relation of trust and faith for the holistic development of students. We should build social and emotional connect with our students,” she revealed the secret of her teaching to Patriot.

The school, where Arti has been teaching for the last two years and has classes from nursery to 12th, runs in two shifts. As many as 2,000 girls study in the morning shift of the school located opposite the DDA office.

“First of all, I didn’t do anything extraordinary but only listened to my heart. I made a ‘connection’ with the students, because I think a teacher doesn’t only have to teach or write but has to do a lot more than that,” Arti said further.

“It’s important that I listen to the students patiently. I work with them through comics, plays, antakshari among other activities.”

With a teaching experience spanning over two decades, Arti has won many awards, including from CBSE and UK universities. She represented India as a Global Teacher Ambassador at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai in 2019.

The 75 awardees from across the country included 50 school teachers, 13 higher education (university) teachers and 12 from the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship.

The latter two categories have been included for the first time, according to a statement from the Ministry of Education.

Each winner of the National Teachers’ Award gets a certificate of merit, a silver medal and cash award of Rs. 50,000.

Building confidence

Arti uses compassion and understanding to help the students.

“Government school students suffer from a phobia of English. If someone is insulted because of the inability to speak English, they can break down and give up. I work on spoken English. If anyone makes a mistake, I don’t scold but build her confidence. I tell them that they won’t learn without making mistakes.”

Arti has also participated in social work. She was honoured with the title of a ‘Corona Warrior’ for her humanitarian efforts during the pandemic.

Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya (SKV), Laxmi Nagar

“I have been educating the girls about menstruation for the last nine years. I also work regarding this in the community, and take workshops.”

She has won awards like Nari Shakti Sammaan, given by the Government of India annually on the occasion of International Women’s Day on March 8.

“I have made my girl students realise their identity. It’s really important that they should realise that their body is not a curse. I told them that they should accept their identity.”

She is deeply inspired by the words of Savitribai Phule, ‘Awake, Arise, and Educate’.

“I also publish research papers, and work on books with my students. I teach them other skills like designing books. I take interest in academic and non-academic works. I have got amazing feedback on my work. Students love me a lot. Sometimes they call me ‘Mom’ instead of ‘Ma’am’.”

She was one of the 50 finalists for the prestigious $1 million Global Teacher Prize, which made her the first Delhi Government School Teacher to achieve this distinction.

For the CBSE Teachers’ Award by the Ministry of Education, she was chosen from a pool of 24,000 schools across 27 countries.

Arti, who teaches girls below 10th standard, is termed an all-rounder by her colleagues.

“She is very hardworking and dedicated to her work. She is very attached to her students. She has also cracked the written exam of UPSC, conducted for the principal’s post,” said one of her colleagues to Patriot.

“As a colleague, she is very cooperative and friendly and not egoistic. She is down to earth. We were very happy with her nomination and celebrated it as a festival. We also learn from her and want to win the award.”

Arti’s close friend Poornima Awasthi is also a teacher in the same school and has known her for around a decade.

“She is an all-rounder. She not only teaches students but guides them. She also goes to slums and does social work there. She really deserves this prize. I am so happy for her and can’t express it in words.”

Arti says that the award means she will have to face further responsibility and strive to do better.

“The National Teachers’ Award 2023 has put a stamp on my work. It also adds to responsibility. Now, I have to continue doing well. My message to teachers is that they should work whole-heartedly. If you do this, it will touch the hearts of students.