The pandemic has devastated many lives since it hit us. Children are the ones who have been harmed the most. Through our Shiksha Na Ruke campaign, we have been doing our best to ensure that underprivileged children have continued access to education and resources. However, there is a range of obstacles that children as well as teachers are facing. We need to continuously work to ensure that these can be overcome.
While a lot of children have the means for online classes, underprivileged children have been deprived of learning amid the COVID-induced lockdown. They have no access to computers or smartphones. These children already have had difficult journeys, having fought the shackles of poverty, child labour, and much more to finally reach school. The pandemic has reversed their years of struggle.
No access to smartphones/tablets
Smile Foundation conducted a survey among beneficiaries of their Mission Education programme to assess the severity of the pandemic situation. About 46% of respondents accepted that they had insufficient teaching-learning resources. At least 69% expressed that better guidance and support to access online classes and platforms would help ease the process.
Only 51% of the respondents were satisfied with the current learning methods, while 80% are waiting for schools to reopen. Almost 68% feel that the online classes are suitable for the parents’ schedule. Moreover, 95% of the respondents have two or more children at home. This means that sharing a mobile phone between two children poses a new challenge.
Adverse conditions at home
Further, the survey data reveals that more than 50% of households still do not have access to proper nutritious food. More than 51% acknowledged that their children feel hunger pangs quite often. Almost 20% of the households are not able to have three full meals a day.
The pandemic has put millions of people out of work. As a result, the domestic environment suffers and children are deeply affected.
Change in patterns and behaviour of children
Up to 77% of the respondents felt that their children’s lifestyle had changed either completely or partially. Eating, sleeping and other regular routines have been impacted. The reason could be that they are out of school and not active enough during the day with less play, physical and mental activity.
How Shiksha Na Ruke is helping
Through the Shiksha Na Ruke campaign, we are following a blended mode of learning. Customized solutions are being created for individual children based on their requirements. Besides smartphone-based app-learning modules, cable-based television learning programmes, one-on-one mentoring, home visits, cluster learning sessions, projector-based learning, and many other methods are being used by teachers to continue the education of children.
Teachers are also being trained for this new digital environment. At the same time, parents are being counselled regularly on how they can support their children’s education. Along with this, value education lessons are also being conducted for the overall development of the children.
Our key interventions
- Provision of smartphones and tablets for deprived children
- Alternate learning mediums – curating educational content for radio, TV, door-to-door visits
- Teacher training – To train them for the dynamic digital learning environment
- Regular counselling of parents to ensure children’s participation
- Ensuring mental well-being – Helpline services and one-on-one monitoring sessions for children to keep them engaged
For lakhs of children, education has come to a halt. They cannot afford smartphones and Internet connections. They cannot even count on the support of their parents for home learning. Shiksha Na Ruke by Smile Foundation is providing these underprivileged children access to continuous learning. We are working to ensure that these children continue to dream. Join hands with us to help these little dreamers continue their education.