A fascination for robotics and technology has pushed students of a Zilla Parishad-run school in a remote village of Maharashtra's Aurangabad district to learn Japanese.
Gadiwat village, located 25 km from Aurangabad city, may not have access to good roads and other necessary infrastructure, but Internet connectivity has proven to be a boon for children studying at the local Zilla Parishad school.
In September last year, the government-run school decided to launch a foreign language programme, under which students from Classes 4 to 8 were asked to choose a language they would like to learn.
"Surprisingly, most of them said they were interested in robotics and technology and were keen to learn Japanese," Dadasaheb Navpute, a secondary teacher at the school, told PTI.
Despite having no proper course material and professional guidance for teaching Japanese, the school administration managed to gather information from videos and translation applications on the Internet, he said.
However, the school has now roped in Sunil Jogdeo, an Aurangabad-based language expert, who has been conducting Japanese classes for free.
On learning about the initiative, Jogdeo approached the school with a plan to conduct hour-long evening classes virtually.
"I have conducted 20 to 22 sessions since July. Children are dedicated and eager to learn. It is amazing how much they have picked up in this short span," Jogdeo said.
Since every student does not have access to a smartphone for the online classes, the school has come up with the concept of 'vishay mitra' (subject friend), under which children who attend the sessions can teach their classmates.
"Ever since the online classes with Jogdeo started in July, children have been speaking with each other in Japanese," school headmaster Padmakar Huljute said with delight.
The success of the programme is evident when Vaishnavi Kolge, daughter of a farmer-couple, rattles off complete sentences in Japanese to introduce herself.
"We first learnt some basic words and now we are gradually learning how to communicate in complete sentences," the Class 8 student said.
Meanwhile, education extension officer of Aurangabad Zilla Parishad Ramesh Thakur said there were more than 350 students at the school, of which 70 have been learning Japanese.
The initiative was an attempt to give international standard education to children, he said.