While education institutions across the country are temporarily closed, the pandemic has forced educators to think critically, solve problems, get creative, communicate and collaborate with students and their parents. It has also demonstrated that anything can be achieved with passion and commitment.
While the disruption in education affects all students, the rural, the vulnerable, and the underprivileged are far more adversely affected. Bharti Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Bharti Enterprises, is making efforts to ensure that nearly 40,000 students in its Satya Bharti Schools across six states in rural India continue to stay engaged with education despite the lockdown.
Although the majority of families of the underprivileged children in the villages do not have a personal computer, the Foundation has ensured that teachers remotely reach out to students through smartphones. Class-wise WhatsApp groups have been formed and students are being given class specific reading material, video links, and assignments.
Teachers are working from home to create homework and weekly assignments for different classes and are sharing them in the groups. Wherever possible, teachers are making use of online learning apps for children. Some teachers are also making short video classes for students to access. For parents who cannot read, teachers are making voice-notes and sending over WhatsApp. Teachers are calling the parents to brief them on homework and assignments, where they or close family members do not have a smartphone.
Satya Bharti Teachers are recruited locally. They are not only sensitive to the circumstances of students, but their bonding with parents and the community has ensured that parents are fully supportive in this endeavour. Teachers are contacting the parents on the phone on a daily basis to ensure that students are studying. Parents have been actively involved in their child’s learning process at home and are sending pictures of their children’s homework and reports to teachers in the groups, every single day.
The Satya Bharti School Program team, including District Coordinators, Cluster Coordinators, and Trainers are providing overall direction and guidance to the teachers, keeping their morale high. They have made class and subject-specific groups and are providing customized training to the teachers, keeping them abreast of lesson planning and modules.
“We are pleased that our field teams and teachers are fully committed and giving their 100% in these trying circumstances. It is heartening to note that parents have been very cooperative and students are eager to learn. It is important that underprivileged children of our country continue to stay engaged with education”, shares Ms. Mamta Saikia, Chief Executive Officer, Bharti Foundation.
Bharti Foundation’s Satya Bharti School Program provides free quality education to nearly 40,000 underprivileged children through 192 schools in the villages across six states in India, with a focus on the girl child. Started in 2006, the program aims to deliver transformative education, with a holistic approach, so that the students become educated, responsible and self-reliant citizens.