COVID 19 has impacted the way things work, all around the world. Currently, every sector is witnessing the effects of the pandemic; the education sector including. However, despite all the educational institutes being temporarily shut down because of the lockdown, the learning continues. Children, being inside their homes may be disconnected from the mainstream learning process, but are enthusiastically adapting to the new means of learning.
In keeping up with changing times and the need of the hour, Bharti Foundation’s Murshidabad team came up with an idea to ensure continued education for the rural underprivileged children studying in Satya Bharti Schools. This initiative began with starting online dissemination of lessons by connecting the maximum number of students with their teachers through different virtual platforms.
The course of action, however, had not been that easy. Most of these children belong to underprivileged families who live in remote areas and do not have access to technology. While many families do not have smart phones, those who do, lack the financial means to get frequent recharges. In some cases, parents who do own smart phones, share it with the rest of the members of the family. Challenges as such made it difficult to reach out to all the children. However, the team was able to connect with 71% of students through different virtual means during the initial phase of the program. Wherever the students couldn’t be reached out online, they were connected with through mobile conference calls.
The program focused on making WhatsApp groups for the students with the help of parents. These groups are divided class-wise and subject-wise, with their respective teachers. Parents were involved and updated about their child/children’s learning process. Those who do not have access to smart phones are connected to by telephonic conversations and are being given lessons and doubt clearing sessions in groups of 5-6 students each through 30 minute long conference calls.
The regular curriculum is being continued by a specifically designing learning methodology. The method consists of specific time tables, revised curriculum, and effective monitoring & evaluation plan. The main goal of the initiative was to reach an active level of preparedness among the students.
The team also formed a resource group consisting of selected teachers who have an expertise in making quality WhatsApp video content for student’s education. These videos are then, shared among the WhatsApp students group one day prior to the actual class. Relevant home assignments, creative projects, effective teaching-learning material, etc. are designed for active engagement and participation.
The idea of virtual learning is vastly accepted and welcomed by the community, and gradually the number of students in the groups are also increasing. Parents are now more involved in their child/children’s learning process and are enthusiastic about helping the first generation learners grow. With a continued effort of the team involved in designing this initiative, the student’s number has increased up to 82% and the numbers are continuously rising.
This article is contributed by Kartick Mukherjee who is working with Bharti Foundation as a District Coordinator in West Bengal.
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