Following the health crisis invoked by the Global outbreak of the COVID- 19 pandemic, many nations including India have taken a strong stand, implementing strict lock-downs and quarantines to help flatten the curve and safeguard public health. It is, however, evident that COVID-19 and its fallout have severely impacted daily life and the functioning of essential sectors and services including education.
In Mumbai alone, schools have been effectively closed since March 16th and all exams have since then been postponed or cancelled. For us at Muktangan the impact has been two-fold as 97% of our staff and almost all our students hail mainly from under-served communities within the city; which have been declared COVID hot-spots, causing us to be deeply concerned for their health and well being.
Our first priority has been to stay closely connected with our staff and personally check in on each of them and their families. We have supported those who required assistance with procuring food and provisions by connecting them to local suppliers and community support networks. Many have expressed their gratitude for the stable financial support received to help supplement the loss to the family income reliant on daily wage work.
Paying it forward our teachers have managed to connect to 3,235 children i.e. 86% of our student body (pre-school to Grade 10) and their families. Their parents were extremely appreciative of the gesture and have since been willing and enthusiastic partners to help continue our work and support their children’s’ education at home.
We were devastated to learn that one of our 4th Grade students was required to stay with his relatives, while his parents are quarantined and currently undergoing treatment after testing positive for COVID -19. Our school faculty are regularly checking in with the family and we are supporting them to the best of our ability.
Our Faculty and teachers have been coordinating and collectively pooling resources to provide our students with quality, enriching learning experiences at home through interactive assignments, video and audio lessons. Weekly timetables have been put in place allowing us to share material through our class teachers to parents via Whats App. Support and guidance are also provided to parents as and when required. We have also begun digital instruction for Grade 9 and 10.
On the Educator Development front our faculty continue to conduct Curriculum Understanding, Lesson Design and English Proficiency sessions digitally via Zoom calls. Our team has been incredible; providing emotional support and mentor-ship to teachers in need. This has been well received and required as many of our educators themselves have expressed experiencing mental and emotional distress caused by the spread of the pandemic and the lock-down.
Our pre-service teacher education program continues to conduct classroom lectures via digital forums and our trainees are currently undergoing their year-end assessments online! We have also begun circulating digital applications for our; Early Childhood Education and Foundation for Primary School, courses for the coming academic year.
This year we continued to fulfil the goals of our extended collaboration with the MCGM; providing mentor-ship and pedagogical support to In-Service educators from 16 select public sector schools catering to Mumbai’s poorest communities. While the fallout from the pandemic has halted direct interaction with our MCGM mentee’s, Muktangan’s outreach team continues to be a part of MCGM school groups. We continue to make our digital resources and learning material available online via shareable open source links with these groups and partners assisting us with various other on-field interventions.
While this has been a difficult and trying time for us all, we have been extremely appreciative of our team, who continue to work from home and remain dedicated to our stakeholders and committed to our mission to ensure that our beneficiaries are supported with Quality Education and a Sustainable Livelihood.
Photos © Muktangan Education Trust