To control the spread of coronavirus, the Indian Government announced a nationwide lockdown for all individuals in March 2020, and unfortunately, life has not been the same for many people across the country. Many crucial life decisions have been at stake, so many dreams shattered, so many hopes destroyed. As the world was turning upside down, with businesses shutting, families separating, lives at risk, there is one more sector that has been tormented due to the pandemic. The lives of all students across the country have taken a massive halt, all at once, leaving them helpless and in distress. It is said that a child's education is his/her first and most important step towards growing up. Did you know that almost 32 crore learners of all age groups were drastically affected due to the coronavirus wave in India? 32 crore students have their education at risk due to the pandemic!
While most people are attempting to make this their ‘new normal’, the minds and freedom of expressing themselves has unfortunately been restricted to a small screen that decides their future. Be it any field of education, this pandemic has changed the lives of these young minds forever. With schools and colleges shut, the dependency on digital media has increased by the day. With the ongoing situation, digital platforms act as a catalyst between children and their education and so, The Shiksha Utkarsha project conducted by Giving for Good Foundation through IDEA Foundation focused on facilitating quality education for marginalized children. This was achieved through online learning and conducting virtual classrooms for the students in need.
Most marginalized children are neglected their basic right to education. So, the main objective of this project was to enhance the quality of e-learning and ensure that children not only learn, but also enjoy and understand what they study. Through virtual learning and online classes, sessions were conducted via Google Meet and WhatsApp audio and video calls. Although students were present in large numbers, personalized attention was ensured through the formation of small batches. With limited access to resources, it is indeed difficult to get hold of a child's attention for a long period at a stretch. And so, for the students to not feel overwhelmed and overburdened, children attended classes every alternate day with homework assigned to keep them engaged throughout the week.
To spread the joy of learning and reading along with the element of fun, extracurricular activities such as drawing and storytelling were conducted at regular intervals. This infotainment helped them learn in simpler ways. For students who were unable to attend virtual sessions, teachers specially visited their homes with complete precaution to build a rapport between the two. Online meetings were held with parents to keep them informed about their child's attendance and performance at school.
With every new opportunity came a new obstacle. But the team of professionals at IDEA Foundation approached these obstacles with precision, strategizing their next plan of action along with a lot of hard work to keep the children occupied and enthusiastic about learning throughout. Due to restrictions, it was not easy maintaining a rapport between students and teachers. Since there were insufficient devices in each house, the availability of phones was dependent on the parents. We provided psychological and financial support to many families for their daily activities including hygiene provisions such as masks, gloves, etc. We also renewed the data packs on mobile devices of parents so that their children could keep learning online.
This project has changed the lives of more than 150 students and has come up with 4 schools to date in Pune city. Over 400 virtual sessions have been conducted as of March 2021, that have helped students across all age groups develop academic skills like reading, writing, comprehension, and math. These sessions also helped foster non-academic skills such as listening, art and creativity, and digital literacy.
So, now don't you believe that a pen is truly mightier than a sword?