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Best Practices followed in primary education

Dr Shamrao Kalmadi Primary School
Best PracticesOur vision at Dr Shamrao Kalmadi Primary school is “To be a joyful learning community nurturing creativity for a sustainable future”.  We believe in providing learner centric education and have always taken the changing needs of students and technological advancements in our stride, providing the latest and best facilities for our students.As part of our Disciplinary measures we follow the practice of Manan, which is a multi faith prayer to spread Universal Love and Respect towards all religions. Children say this every day everyday along with multilingual songs to respect all the languages as well. Children also practice meditation after recess in school. To ensure that they stay hydrated and drink enough water at regular intervals we have introduced water bell after every two periods.We believe that discipline brings stability and structure into a person's life. It promotes good human behavior and a bettersociety for everyone to live. Wepractice FNTL at the end of the day which helps children to get disciplined and become independent. FTNL stands for FIRST-Keep your books and pencil box in the bag. NEXT-Check your shelves. THEN - Quickly clean up your class. LAST- Stand up straight for Vande Mataram. Activities like games and exercises are conducted to channelize energy of some students before beginning of the school as part of Energy Channelizing Program. Action Research through Nurturing Talent Program was a 2 years project that had an excellent outcome. As part of this program students from 2 categories i.e above and below average were selected. Classes for Maths and English were conducted before and after school. We realized that children understood their concepts for these subjects in a better way with this one to one guidance or personal attention that they received.To encourage Language enhancement skills we celebrate different language days in our school. Children perform various activities like skit, recite poems to explain the importance of Marathi and Hindi bhasha. We also hold ShishuGeet Competition which has a theme of different language every year. Last year we had a theme of “Rabindra Sangeet” so all the songs were in Bengali language. As part of our Interdisciplinary approach we have Swarvigyan, aprogram aimed exclusively at explaining the science behind various musical instruments. This program is a very good example of co-relation with other subjects as well as students, teachers and artist. Kaushal is a skill building school exhibition that is organised with an aim to make students self-reliant and boost their self- confidence. Skills like fine motor, visual- motor skills, spatial relations, abstract thinking, creative thinking, numerical ability, linguistic skills and speed and accuracy are aimed to develop. Along with these skills, children also learn values like co-operation, co-ordination and taking up responsibility through this hand on experience. Children learn about making products, estimating the cost and marketing the products. The amount collected through this exhibition is donated for a noble cause. We have also contributed our bit towards the society by adopting a village.Our motto “create – collaborate – construct” has really been achieved as the students, teachers and parents come together to make this dream become a reality! Through this exhibition, parents and teachers have given children, roots to grow and wings to fly!Value education in schools plays a major part in a child's life. Value based education can shape their future and add purpose to their life.Imparting values has been the most important part of our school. This is carried out in various methods like having one value every month, relatingto important  day/event, dramatization of moral based stories, Chintan - Stories by teachers  andstudents. Values displayed in classrooms like having a Value Bulletin Board,keeping the school premises clean and many such more ways.At our school various activities are carried out to provide Social Awareness to students like visit to old age home , celebrating Gratitude Day to show gratitude towards rickshaw/van kaka, helpers and our security guards,  visit to Police station and keeping the school premises clean and many such actives. With equal focus on academics and holistic development of our students, our Primary Section guides and encourages students to be assertive and excel in all spheres of life.
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EdTech in the remotest villages of Ladakh - 17000 ft Foundation shows the way

17000 ft Foundation, a Nonprofit organization working in remote hamlets of high altitude Ladakh has pioneered a unique EdTech Learning Solution to reach children even in areas without electricity or mobile connectivity.About LadakhLadakh or the “land of high passes” in the erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir is a newly formed Union Territory of India and is divided into two administrative districts - Leh and Kargil. Spread over 60,000 sq. km. of harsh mountain terrain, with a few hundred tiny, hamlets dotting its landscape, these sparsely populated hamlets, all in altitudes upwards of 9,000 ft are home to a centuries old indigenous population of just under 3,00,000, whose sustenance and growth depends on the infrastructure, resources and support provided by the Government.Over 90% of Ladakh is rural and remote, with most hamlets still getting electricity only for a few hours in the night. Internet connectivity is extremely limited and sketchy, with many remote hamlets still without mobile coverage and those with mobile coverage limited to just 2G or 3G. Each year, an average of 30% of school going children from remote villages migrate away from their homes to faraway cities for education, many as young as 5 years old, who stay in boarding schools, private dorms or with extended families, mostly never to return.About 17000 ft Foundation17000 ft Foundation is a Not for profit setup to improve lives of people settled in very remote mountainous hamlets, in areas that are inaccessible and isolated due to reasons of harsh mountainous terrain. The goal of 17000ft is to ensure that communities living even in the remotest and most inaccessible of hamlets of mountainous regions like Ladakh have access to quality education and opportunities of income. We achieve this by improving the infrastructure in remote Govt. Schools & Anganwadi Centers, providing better resources for learning, training teachers, mobilizing communities, driving awareness about these villages, and generating opportunities for income, thereby building replicable models of development.We today have a presence in 220 very remote hamlets of Leh and Kargil districts of UT of Ladakh, reaching out to over 12,000 children and 50,000 community members. Our programs have today reduced student migration by over 50%, and increased enrollment by over 30% in Govt. Schools.The DigiLab Program – 17000ft’s EdTech Solution built for villages with neither electricity nor connectivityThe DigiLab is our Flagship Program that brings the power of digital technology to improve learning, even in areas which are remote, inaccessible and truly off-grid. The DigiLab Project assumes neither the presence of uninterrupted electricity, mobile connectivity nor existing infrastructure, and brings together all required components in an offline, but connected system, delivering customized and personalized content through a local internet to students, while also enabling the teachers and administrators to assess and monitor performance periodically.The uniqueness of the solution lies in its ability to function completely offline in schools, but also sync to a cloud based system through a last mile connectivity app that relies on the presence of travelling teachers and facilitators.The Program provides each school with the complete solar and digital infrastructure, EdTech Engine, learning content, training, support, monitoring and reporting needed to be fully independent & functional Digital Learning Centers. Under this, each school receives a 300 W Solar Panel to power up a DigiLab, multiple 10” tablets with rich, interactive content which is personalized and customized to the local board and mapped to textbooks, a Raspberry Pi or equivalent server which functions as a local cloud that connects all tablets, stores student usage data, and a Dashboard for reporting. The Program also comes with a “travelling” Facilitator App that syncs Analytical data from the local server to the cloud and also updates content regularly. The Tablets are completely locked down and only display academic content. All this in areas which neither have electricity nor connectivity. DigiLab Program – The Success StoryThe DigiLab Program was first implemented in 2019 and is today active in 120 Schools of Ladakh, covering its remotest and most inaccessible of hamlets. Over 80% of these villages have electricity for just 3 hours in the night. Only 30% of these villages have 4G or internet connection. However, the DigiLab has transformed each of these schools into Digital Learning Hubs where students are eager to come to school and parents proud to send them there. Teachers are using the DigiLab along with traditional classroom teaching in a blended model while children are learning at their own pace with highly interactive videos and gamified content. Assessments are also taken using the DigiLab as well as through traditional tests and exams. The System has worked in the harshest of winters even in the remote hamlets of the Drass Sector, the second coldest inhabited region of the planet, where teachers opened up the DigiLab for students during the winter vacations. Students across the schools eagerly wait for their chance to use the DigiLab, keep the rooms clean and even shovel snow regularly outside the room in winters to ensure that access to the room is not disturbed! Headmasters and teachers regularly attend the centralized training to effectively maintain the DigiLab as well as to improve student learning outcomes. Not only are Headmasters able to track the performance of each grade, subject and student, Zonal and District officers, as well as the 17000ft team is able to monitor and track progress of each school near real time. Parents, for their part, show their commitment to the school by not only ensuring that their children go to school, but many have pulled their children out of private schools to enroll them back into Govt. Schools.  Today over 6000 children are enrolled in our DigiLab, with over 93% actively using the DigiLab and showing a learning improvement of over 10% in just the first year alone. Today, with schools being shut for Covid, the System can provide a much needed alternative to traditional classroom teaching and also be adapted to an in-home solution where each child takes a tablet home to study and only comes to school for a few minutes a day to sync data, which the teacher can safely monitor.With the DigiLab Program, no child need ever be left behind, regardless of the geography that they live in.
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Ramvati works among COVID-19 Patients to Feed her Five Children

From Lucknow, Ramvati is a 30-year-old widow and mother of five, who lives with her in-laws. Trapped into child marriage at 12, Ramvati says that she’s faced so many hurdles so young that now she has become strong. Ramvati works as a cleaner at a private hospital, risking her life every day working among COVID-19 patients. But her salary wasn’t enough to provide for eight people when food prices spiked during the lockdown. Akshaya Patra began delivering Essential Grocery Boxes in Lucknow since the beginning of April, with each box containing enough dry rations for 42 meals. When grocery boxes were distributed in Ramvati’s community, she says she was so happy because the rations helped meet her family’s needs. She says, “This organization has been a backbone for us during these difficult times, and I can’t thank Akshaya Patra enough times to show my appreciation for their work.”Ramvati’s family is just one of millions who’re struggling to survive through this pandemic. With lost jobs and rapidly depleting savings (where there are any at all), our vulnerable communities, and vulnerable people across the globe, will not just have to battle a COVID-19 pandemic, but a hunger pandemic as well.  Akshaya Patra shares stories of beneficiaries through our COVID-19 Relief Efforts, as well as of our Mid-Day Programme to show you how a small act of generosity can impact and change somebody’s life.
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Women Farmer Producer Companies transforming the face of Agriculture in Maharashtra

An online meeting with #FPCs of @MissionUmed revealed the confidence of #WomenFarmerProducerCompanies in Maharashtra @DAY_NRLM @MoRD_GOI @mrhasanmushrif bringing change in #agriculture @MahaDGIPR @AgriGoI #SHGs Online is the new mantra, screen fatigue or no, we all are head over heels into it. So over the last two months MSRLM has undertaken reviews, conducted online trainings and workshops and even held interactive sessions. Last week we had organized an online discussion with women Farmer Producer Companies established by MSRLM Umed.In a world of agriculture and marketing which is still dominated by men, MSRLM Umed has established 15 Women Farmer Producer Companies across Maharashtra. The overall objective of MSRLM is creation of community based organizations and empowering them through sustainable ilivelihoods. Now that it has created more than 4.5 lakh self help groups and over 8000 producer groups as well as over 8000 enterprises venturing into Farmer Prodcer Companies was the next logical step.The self help groups had proved themselves by engaging in small businesses however setting up a Farmer Producer Company with legal compliances was an altogether different ball game. Firstly it needed a sizeable number of women to come together with a willingness to invest in share capital and secondly it needed a lot of statutory and legal compliances.Our task was made easy by our technical support agency, BASIX. To a large extent the partnership with UNDP and Arya Collateral helped as they contributed in creating groups and training them as Women Sourcing Managers. As with the general policy of NRLM the first step was capacity building in all aspects from effective cultivation to collectivization as well as study of the markets to ensure good price for their products. It may have been an uphill task but the efforts bore fruits. Today fifteen FPCs have been formed by women entrepreneurs in the remotest districts of Maharashtra including tribal belts. These are in the districts of Gadchiroli, Gondia , Chandrapur, Wardha, Yavatmal in Vidarbha, Palghar in Konkan, Nandurbar in Northern Maharashtra and in drought prone areas of Marathwada like Beed, Jalna and also Solapur from Western Maharashta.It was heartening to see the progress made by the FPCs in the last two years. Today each FPC had an average annual turnover between Rs.1.5 to Rs.2.5 Crores in which major focus was given on trading activities and collective procurement of seeds and fertilizers .FPCs like Navi Umed from Wardha, Kalamb and Jivonnati FPCs from Yavattmal ,Girija self reliant company from Gondia and Yashwanti FPO from Palghar stand out in their performance.Interestingly Eco Van FPO from Gadchiroli is engaged in value addition services. They are procuring Custard Apple and Indian Blackberries (Jaamun) and marketing the pulp. Their tasty Custard Apple milkshakes and Jaamun Shots were the talk of the town at the Mahalakshmi Saras in Mumbai. This year too they have procured two tonnes of Jaamun for pulp extraction and syrup preparation. Jaamun is of great support to diabetic persons hence it has a huge demand. These fruits being seasonal such value additions make it available throughout the year.The FPCs have been active even during the Covid 19 crisis lockdown. Vardaini FPO of Barshi block in Solapur district is engaged in trading of vegetables and fruits during lockdown. They even used the vehicles provided by the NRLM program under AGEY scheme. This activity helped the farmers to market their perishable goods. They also put back on track the supply chain which was disrupted due to lockdown. They also seized the excellent business opportunity whether it was marketing eggs or other products. The FPC not only has input licences but also have dealership of Tech Mahindra for irrigation equipment. They are not only selling Drip and Sprinklers but supplying quality pipeline materials with marginal costs.Yashwanti FPO of Palghar is one of the best examples for implementing different activities under one roof . The members are engaged in doing trading of Paddy, Procurement of Paddy seeds and fertilizers . They have established Nursery of different vegetables in low cost shade net house and supply them to the members with optimum price. Cultivation and marketing of Jasmine flowers has given them great repute. Activities like drip irrigation, sprinkler dealership, trading of grocery etc have given them a turn over of more than Rs.1 Crore.Girija, self reliant company at Gondia is also performing well by undertaking different activities like trading , catering, procurement of seeds and fertilizers , grocery trading ,fish feed supply which has increased turn over of the FPO up to Rs.84 lakh during last year and this year collective procurement of seeds and fertilizers has already crossed Rs.74 lakh. They have also opened outlets for sale of organic fertilizers, Paddy, Tur etc.All these FPOs have understood that completing egal compliances is a must and adhere to it. FPCs have great opportunities in years to come and with proper planning there is scope to improve their performance. Timely distribution of dividends could also pave the path. However the biggest takeaway in the online meeting was the confidence and the active participation of the Women from the Board of Directors. This indicates increased livelihoods along with the goal of Women Empowerment. And all this has been possible thanks to the grit and determination of the SHGs of MSRLM.You can aslo find this story on the author's blog at
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Netizens Want Padma Shri For This 69-Year Old Paralysed Man From Kerala

NS Rajappan from Manianikkara, Kottayam has been collecting discarded plastic waste from the Vembanad Lake for the past 5 years. Although he doesn’t own a boat, he hires a tiny one every day and sets out early in the morning to collect plastic bottles dumped in the waters.He couldn’t bear to see the plastic bottles being thrown into the lake around which he grew up. He voluntarily took up the job of collecting these bottles and sold them to a local agency that collects plastic. Rajappan was stricken with polio when he was just five years old and has been paralysed ever since.“Since I couldn’t move my legs, I’ve never had the chance to take up a daily wage job, so I’ve been doing jobs like these to make a living. One kilogram of plastic earns me Rs.12, so even if I collect a whole boat of plastic bottles, it’s not much. But I still do it because the least I’m doing is saving the lake and to me, that’s all that really matters,” he explains.During the 2018 Kerala floods, Rajappan’s house faced a lot of damage and was completely flooded. Even then, Rajappan didn’t ask for help and managed to live in a boat for a few weeks. Over the past few months, Rajappan saw the amount of plastic waste decreasing in the lake due to the number of tourists going down. “Even though this means that I might not be able to make enough money, I’m just glad that the lake will stay clean,” says Rajappan.Several netizens have applauded Rajappan’s efforts to keep the lake clean despite his circumstances but his struggles continue. Rajappan chettan deserves all the goodness in the world for the work he has been doing over the years. We hope we can all come together and help build a new home for him and support him financially, especially at a crucial time like this. If you wish to help Rajappan, you can donate to the account number provided below:Rajappan.N.SAccount No: 17760100068162IFSC code: FDRL0001776Federal Bank KumarakomThe story has been extracted from
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HPPI organises orientation webinar on online education for 9 DIETs in Madhya Pradesh

Due to the ongoing lockdowns and closure of schools and colleges, digital learning has emerged as the only alternative to continue imparting education. HPPI’s Necessary Teacher Training Programme (NeTT), which is being implemented in 13 District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs) across India, trains students to become quality primary school teacher who can withstand any challenge and help school students drive their own learning process.Recently, in a state review meeting in Madhya Pradesh, Mr. Lokesh Jatav, Commissioner, Rajya Shiksha Kendra (RSK), appreciated HPPI’s NeTT Programme in MP, especially commending the work done by the project team in continuing teacher training via digital means during the lockdown period. The NeTT Programme is currently implemented in three DIETs of MP – Barwani, Ujjain and Umaria. Subsequently, it was requested that HPPI NeTT staff train the teaching staff from nine DIETs –Ujjain, Bhopal, Indore, Mandsaur, Sagar, Gwalior, Khandwa, Rewa, and Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh in conducting online classes.HPPI teacher-educators initially organised an orientation webinar on June 23 for the faculty members, including principals, of the 9 selected DIETs. Deputy Director, RSK and Head of Curriculum, and Pre-Service Education Branch in-charge, RSK also participated in this session. The main objective of this webinar was to introduce the staff, the plan for the following weeks and a snippet of the 44 sessions that were to follow via online classes in the month of July. Following the orientation webinar, four demo classes were conducted between July 1-4 to familiarise the student-teachers and faculty members from the 9 DIETs with the technology and the software used. Starting July 6, 44 virtual class sessions based on the NeTT curriculum and pedagogy are being organised by the HPPI staff, following it is expected that the DIET faculty members will independently conduct classes with their respective students.HPPI NeTT teacher-educators, as part of these virtual education sessions, are also providing student-teachers with study tasks which are available online on Google Drive and can be accessed for self-study. The NeTT Pedagogy puts a student in the driver’s seat of his/her own learning and during this lockdown, it is helping them take charge of their learning and making them equally responsible as their teachers to finish their training on time. More than 12,000 teachers have graduated under the NeTT Programme across states of India since it was first implemented in 2009 in Chhattisgarh. The Programme currently runs in in 14 government-run teacher training institutes across five states of India, namely, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh.
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Connecting government school teachers to parents in Himachal Pradesh

IntroductionParents are central to a child’s motivation to do well in school. However, in many low-income families, students studying in government schools tend to be first-generation learners. As such many parents are not involved in their child’s education. One way to mitigate this challenge is by keeping them abreast of their child’s performance at school on a more frequent basis.DesignTo this end, the Government of Himachal Pradesh, supported by Samagra's Samarth and technology teams, developed an app called e-Samwad using Open Source technology. The app is used by teachers to send regular predefined SMS updates to parents. Keeping in mind connectivity issues, the app has been designed to operate in offline mode as well.Teachers can download the e-Samwad app from the Google Play Store. The Department of Education has created school-specific IDs for teachers which they can use to log into the App. Once logged in they can choose the kind of SMS they want to send to the parent such as attendance, homework completion status, assessment results, SMC meeting, PTM meetings, holidays and information regarding important events in the school. Each parent subsequently receives a customised SMS about their child. Messages can be sent in English and Hindi.A teacher using the e-Samwad appImplementationThe app was designed in close collaboration with teachers who will eventually use this application. The development team consulted various teachers for their feedback to make user flows more acceptable to a wider set of users. A version of the app was tested in Mandi district for more than a month and a significant amount of feedback was gathered from the users there--both technical and functional. After extensive testing and upgrading the app, the app was launched by the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Shri Jairam Thakur, last year. Subsequently, extensive training of teachers and block officials was conducted to ensure higher degree of familiarity and quicker adoption. ImpactWithin 3 weeks of its launch in March 2020, the app was used by 7,828 schools in the state to reach out to 80,636 parents, sending out 1.3 lakh messages. Once schools reopen for this academic year after the COVID lockdown is lifted, all 15,000+ schools in HP are expected to start using e-Samwad. This app is free for use by the Education Department of any state in India.
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When Millions Rushed Home, A School Programme Gave Kerala’s Migrants Reason To Stay

When millions of jobless migrant workers across India started returning to their hometowns in May 2020, Pratima and Rajesh Singh decided against heading back to their village in Ballia district in easternmost Uttar Pradesh. Rajesh, who had worked as a welder in Kerala’s central Ernakulam district for 17 years, was among the 120 million Indians left unemployed by the COVID-19-induced lockdown. The Singh family had a reason for remaining in Ernakulam through the crisis: They did not wish to interrupt their children’s education. Their sons, Amrith and Anshuman are enrolled in a school supported by the district’s Roshni programme that helps children of migrant families become proficient in Malayalam. The three-year-old scheme has been successful in ensuring that these children stayed on in the state’s education system, as IndiaSpend reported in August 2019. When classes moved to video/online platforms at the start of the school session in June, Roshni too was revived. Volunteers began participating in these remote classes, explaining the lessons in the children’s mother tongues and also involving the parents in the process, said teachers. Of the 922 students’ families in Ernakulam covered by Roshni, 90% (830 families) had stayed back, as of May 10 - 46 days after the lockdown was announced--according to the data generated by the programme and accessed by IndiaSpend. “We stayed on because of our children’s education--changing school will be an issue and it will also mentally impact them,” said Pratima, echoing a view held by the other migrant worker families we interviewed. Although the exact number of migrants in Kerala is unknown, as much as 11% of the population now (between 3.5 and 4 million) could be migrant, according to a 2017 study by Centre for Migration and Inclusive Development, an Ernakulam-based non-profit.Hit by the lockdown, India’s unemployment rate for April 2020 was pegged at 23.5%, nearly thrice the level in March. In June, the Kerala government submitted to the Supreme Court that 1,53,000 workers have left for their homes on 100 special trains for returning migrants and 1,20,000 workers were still waiting to return. Like the Singhs, most migrant families in Ernakulam that decided to stay back for their children’s education had little or no work/ income during the lockdown. They either lived on their savings or were supported by relatives back home. “Some families went home for the vacations [declared in March before the lockdown] and have not been able to come back, and atleast 50% want to come back,” said Jayashree K, academic coordinator of Roshni. “I think the support [language proficiency] we are offering is useful.” Going online, with language supportKerala trialled online classes--First Bell--for two weeks from June 1 for all classes except class 11, and made these available on KITE Victers channel run by the general education department and online. Classes are scheduled for two hours for class 12, 90 minutes for class 10, and 30 minutes for lower and upper primary students. The digital classroom sessions include Roshni volunteers, as we mentioned earlier. The videos are edited down to small capsules and shared with students and parents and are followed with instructions for educational activities. The children complete their activities, take a photo and video of their work and share it in the group with the help of parents. Some children are able to watch the videos as and when they are broadcast on TV or online but many students have trouble accessing a device. Access to tech and TVThe Singhs currently have one smartphone that the children use for their lessons. Rajesh is out of a job and takes on occasional assignments. The family is managing with his sparse earnings, savings and the support of relatives in Uttar Pradesh. “We do not even have a TV so a laptop [for the children] is out of the question,” said Pratima.The state government had conducted a survey in May before the start of online classes and found that there were 280,000 students who would not be able to access online classes. “Our aim was to ensure that the child watches the class, probably the same day or within the week, depending on the availability of electricity and internet connectivity,” said Babu. “In places without such facilities, we have ensured that classes were downloaded and viewed on laptops or TV.”Most migrant families have access to at least a phone, said Roshni’s Jayashree. For those who do not have any device, schools telecast classes at facility centres such as libraries, anganwadis and Kudumbashree [state women’s collective] centres.Shifted for better educationAnkit Kumar, a class 7 student, studies in a Roshni-supported school and is taking online classes now. He misses school and friends and finds classroom teaching better. “I can understand Malayalam, but reading is difficult,” he said. Ankit’s parents are from Siwan in Bihar and run a home-based footwear business in Ernakulam, which supported nearly 20 other migrant workers till the lockdown. “We shifted here with children nearly four years ago because back home the education system was not good and my husband was worried about their future,” said Anita Kumar, Ankit’s mother. Clients have not been placing orders and business has been dull. “We do not have any income but do not want to go back home as it will disrupt his classes,” she said. Muthu [she uses only one name], a single parent who works in a mall in Ernakulam, came back from her village in Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu in early June soon after classes began. “I did not want my daughter to miss classes, and also had to get back to work as the mall had reopened,” she said. Although they have a TV, the government's 30-minute classes are viewed on a mobile.Roshni volunteers collect daily data on how many students have been able to watch video, and participate in activities. Even among families that returned to their hometowns, 55 students have been watching classes, noted Roshni data as on July 1. Classes at anganwadis and work sitesHasina Khatun, a Roshni volunteer and a migrant from West Bengal’s Murshidabad district, helps children ease into Malayalam using Bengali and Assamese. She downloads online classes on a pen drive and plays it on TV for around 25 children at two anganwadis. “There are children till upper primary,” she said. “Although online classes are only for 30 minutes, children are split into multiple batches and often these classes extend into the evening. Due to COVID, we can’t go to their homes to help.” Although most children understand Malayalam, they face problems writing or reading it.During the lockdown, with schools closed, Hasina and other Roshni volunteers worked at the district administration call-centre set up to support migrant workers who needed essentials and travel needs. Hasina’s husband, a driver, had met with an accident before the lockdown and she relied on her savings and daily wages of Rs 500 from the call centre to see her family through. “I have stopped work at the call-centre because the classes started,” she said.Another volunteer, Supriya Debnath from Odisha, supports students at an on-site facility provided by a concrete block-making factory where many of the parents, mostly from Odisha, work. “Class starts by 11 a.m., and we have created batches based on the number of children, maintaining social distancing,” she said.These classes have added more work for volunteers who now have to also engage with every child online for almost all subjects. They have to keep abreast with the latest classes and ensure that they understand it before they are able to explain it to the children. “Doing all this online is difficult although the school support is available,” said Jayashree.Roshni’s success found mention in the governor’s address in the state assembly in January, noting that it would be expanded across the state. However, the model can be replicated only if there are a large number of students justifying the investment in resources, said Babu, director of general education. And unlike Ernakulam, in most districts, migrant workers live without their families, he added.The story has been extracted from
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IIT Kanpur alumnus wins Digital India Award for helping two million stranded migrants from Bihar

Bihar- being the country's second most populated state, as well as the most densely populated state, suffered heavily during these unprecedented times of COVID-19. The state had a massive challenge to fight the ever increasing suffrage and cases of the infectious disease.Moreover, the unexpected lockdown has left more than two million migrants from the state of Bihar stranded across various states. It had become a challenge of survival for these individuals, as multiple operations in various industries were shut down. The state was facing a daunting task of managing both the medical as well as humanitarian crisis.A ray of hope to Bihar In these dark times, there was a light in the form of IAS officer Chanchal Kumar, an IIT Kanpur alumnus, with a Master’s Degree in Computer Science from IIT Kanpur as well as another Master’s Degree in International Development Policy and applied Economics from Duke University. He had successfully and effectively managed to implement ideas and also mitigate the effect of this virus on people.Chanchal Kumar, recently on Saturday was awarded Excellence under Digital India Initiative at Elets India Transformation Summit, for effectively providing help to the people of Bihar with the help of Bihar Pravasi Sahayata Yojna. The IAS officer played an important role in being able to deliver Bihar government’s interim relief to the bank accounts of over 21 lakh migrants. And this was done even before they reached their home state.He had created a very simple application form, which was made reachable to the people of the state through a Bihar Government App. The stranded migrants were required to simple fill in their details, and the money was instantly credited through direct bank transfer. Geo-location tagging was done by the application to electronically verify the location as mentioned in the application form.The initiative worked effectively, both due to its speed and accuracy in order to help the relief reach the individuals in a timely manner. Chanchal was also affluent in playing a role, for the smooth coordination between state and the railway authorities when the special train services was launched. Through this effort he managed to ensure the return of over 2.5 million stranded migrants back to their home state.Chanchal Kumar has been well known for his ever successful Poverty Alleviation Programs, as well as playing influential part in the development of excluded communities and empowering the marginalized sections. Creating transparency while working and implementing strategies has played a critical part in his work ethics and culture.The article has been extracted from
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Kerala IFS Uses Coir To Prevent 90 Lakh Plastic Bags From Reaching Landfills

In 2018, when Meenakshi C was made the Conservator of Forests in Kerala’s Central Region, her aim was to eliminate the age-old use of polythene bags to raise seedlings, and increase the awareness among youngsters about the positive effects of greenery in urban areas.“Every year, the Forestry Department distributes 90 lakh seedlings to schools, colleges, forest clubs, panchayats, and other organisations, on World Environment Day, and through the week of Van Mahotsav. But these seedlings are traditionally raised in polythene bags that are buried under the soil or disposed of after the sapling has been planted. This disturbed me,” mentions Meenakshi.Consequently, from January 2019 onwards, Meenakshi and her team started testing sustainable materials such as bamboo shoots, coconut shells, and gunny bags to grow the saplings. Sadly, none of these attempts were successful. “The bamboo shoots would become fragile with continuous exposure to water. Additionally, the medium restricted the growth of roots, and would also end up damaging them during the planting stage, when they would be removed from the container. Coconut shells also hindered the growth of the roots, and besides, sourcing 90 lakh coconut shells is no easy task. Gunny bags were an ideal solution until we realised the bags needed were not mobile. They needed external support to stand upright,” says Meenakshi.Stumbling Upon A Solution — CoirIn September 2019, while Meenakshi was still looking for sustainable solutions to raise seedlings, she got in touch with her former colleague, Sheik Hussain, who was the Conservator of Kozhikode.“When I explained to him what I was looking for, he suggested that I consider coir containers which were gaining popularity as a eco-friendly potting medium. He was unsure if I could find them in smaller sizes for raising saplings but asked me to contact an agent in Pollachi, Tamil Nadu who was a manufacturer and dealer of coir products like doormats. They were also manufacturing coir pots but only in bigger sizes. Once I got in touch with them, they were more than happy to make coir cups according to our requirements,” says Meenakshi.After some back and forth, the shape and size of the containers was finalised (2.5 mm thickness, 50 mm diameter, and 100 mm length), and 500 sample containers were purchased. More than 30 species of trees were planted to test the root growth of the plant, and durability of the medium.“It was a success. Even teakwood trees which have a dominant root system grew well. The coir containers are shaped like cones and are weightless. They also have perfect water retention capacity, and the material is just right — neither too dense nor too thin — thus allowing the roots to grow unhindered. Coir is also high in ‘lignin,’ a cellulose-like material responsible for its durability. Apart from this, the containers can be planted along with the sapling, making it a completely zero-waste product and process,” says Meenakshi.Seedling DistributionIn February 2020, a bulk order was placed to the same agent in Pollachi. Once it was delivered, the Social Forestry Department began planting seeds to prepare for World Environment Day.Anaz MA, the Divisional Forest Officer of Ernakulam district, who was also involved in the project says, “Being the nodal bodies that supply seedlings across the state, eliminating plastic was our number one priority for this year. Coir containers fit all the parameters we had set in place in terms of weight, size, durability, and mobility. Even after it was distributed to different schools in the city, the cups had remained in shape, none of them were damaged.”The initial plan was to distribute more than 10 lakh seedlings on World Environment Day, but due to the pandemic that was gripping Kerala, deliveries were delayed, and the department was prepared with only 5 lakh seedlings. This was distributed across 14 districts. The first distribution drive using coir containers, was a success. Meenakshi claims there were no damages to the containers during transit, nor were there any damages to the roots while planting them. Apart from that, the department had also received a positive response from those who had planted the seedlings.“In the following months, the other seedlings were raised, and we continued receiving more containers in order to prepare for Van Mahotsav week. We safely managed to distribute 40 lakh saplings, raised in coir containers, through the week of Van Mahotsav. We have distributed 50 lakh seedlings till now,” she says.Today, Meenakshi and her team are working on the second trial for the coir containers. “The first test was done during the months of summer when the weather was dry. Now, we are testing the container’s durability against heavy rains. If the test is a success, in the future all saplings will be distributed in coir containers thereby eliminating any use of plastic,” says Meenakshi.The story has been extracted from
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