A Quest for Education in the COVID-19 Times

The picture you see is of eight-year-old Sangharsh Kumar, onboard a train that will take him back to his native residence in village Gohana in Uttar Pradesh. Sangharsh’s father has been a factory worker in Ghaziabad for the past 10 years. Like lakhs of other children belonging to migrant families who are travelling back to their hometowns, Sangharsh’s family, too, is affected by the COVID-19 lockdown as his father has lost his job. 

Loss of livelihood equally translates to loss of access to quality education for the children.
Lack of awareness, poverty and missing identity documents are some of the reasons due to which children of migrant families remain deprived of education. Same was the case with Sangharsh.
“Since the economic condition of my family was not good, I could not get a chance to get admitted to a school,” he says. 

Sangharsh and his sister, Khushbu, were identified during a survey of out-of-school children conducted by Humana People to People India (HPPI) in Karkar Model area of Ghaziabad, following which they were enrolled in the organisation’s Kadam Programme for out-of-school children. 
Pointing the efforts made by Anjali Rawat, a Kadam teacher, Sangharsh goes on to tell how he finally got enrolled in the Kadam programme in May 2019. 

“During the survey Anjali madam convinced my parents and helped me and my sister to attend the Kadam Centre. At the Centre I learnt to read and write along with various other interesting things through a number of activities I participated in with my classmates. Each day, I would look forward to going to the Centre for what was new in store for us and to meet my friends.”

With the COVID-19 lockdown, however, many things changed. 
“While the Centre was closed, on Anjali madam’s suggestion, I kept continuing my studies at home and helped my sister every now and then,” says Sangharsh

“Anjali madam was teaching us online via WhatsApp. Through video calls, madam would solve all my queries related to the exercises in the Kadam books. She even encouraged us to attempt some theme activities under my mother’s guidance which both of us quite enjoyed.”
The unique toolkit provided to children as a part of the Kadam Programme enables them to study at their individual learning level and progress at their own pace.
While on his journey back home, as he continues to work on the exercises listed in his Kadam workbook, Sangharsh is also anxious about internet availability in his village so he can to connect with his teacher on WhatsApp.
“Now we’re heading back to our village. However, I would like to continue my education and, also, keep supporting my sister in her education,” says the determined boy.
Nearly 83,000 out-of-school children have been a part of the Kadam Programme since the year 2016, and have been assisted with guidance and appropriate tools to close their learning gaps so they can be integrated into age-appropriate regular classes in formal schools.

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