India is home to over 18 million children who live and work on the streets of the country. In many scenarios, their poverty-stricken situation has been a root cause for them to tread into child labour, just so that their families can have one square meal a day. And when the whole world came to a standstill in 2020, things did not get any better for these children.
When the pandemic struck in 2020, nobody was sure about what was going to happen, and one of the biggest changes that took place was in the face of education.
While one segment of students lost out on the fun and frolic aspect of school education, another lost out on a lot more.
Over 247 million children have lost their safe spaces in schools, lost access to education, and over 160 million children have been prone to becoming victims of child labour due to their financial situation. Their lives were overturned without any access to digital means, unlike their privileged counterparts.
In 2020, BYJU’S Education for All (EFA) was founded with a mission to make learning possible for 5 million children by 2025. We hope to achieve this through our NGO partners who have been helping the children in need.
The incredible efforts of these NGOs and non-profits during the pandemic have been targeted towards ensuring that children continue to learn.
In Bengaluru, one such social group called Whitefield Ready has been helping government school children in the area for over 10 years now. In 2016, the group joined hands with Rotary Bangalore IT Corridor, to together uplift the six government schools in the area that the group was associated with.
Need for English-Medium
One of these schools is the Ramagondanahalli Government School which is the only English-medium Government School in the state. The school saw a number of students from outside the state. A couple of volunteers tried to bring back learning for these children by taking them back to the classrooms.
“We realised that they’re all non-Kannada speaking children, and there was zero incentive for them to sit in our classrooms,” says Sumedha Rao, a founder member of Whitefield Ready and a member of Rotary, adding that most of them would scurry home, not even waiting for lunch.
While there were other affordable English-medium schools, the parents would often find themselves unable to pay this the following year. This posed a problem when the students would be out on the streets once again.
“Most of the children in these schools belong to the lowest strata of the society and their parents work as daily wagers, drivers, house helps, etc,” she notes.
But luckily with the support of the state government, along with two other organisations, they were able to provide free education for the students. While the Kannada medium was taken care of by the government, the English medium section had teachers appointed by the other organisations.
So far, about 18 teachers work in the English medium classrooms, teaching about 480 of the total of 700 children in the school. These teachers have left their corporate lives behind to teach these children, and have found their passion in this career.
“Despite going through a lot of emotional trauma, these kids are up and in the classroom every morning. So for us, they have been the real heroes,” Sumedha shares.
Rotary Bangalore IT Corridor has been working with partners including BYJU’S Education For All to support the educational infrastructure of the school, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Life-Changing Pandemic
When the pandemic struck, like most underprivileged children, the students of Ramagondanahalli Government School also struggled to get their education. While their privileged counterparts had access to educational facilities, the lack of devices took a toll on their learning.
Seeing the plight of their children, the parents reached out to the Rotary Bangalore IT Corridor with a request for devices. With the support of BYJU’S EFA and BYJU’S Give, the team was able to distribute 300 devices to the children.
While many of the students are still picking up the pace with BYJU’S learning content, Sumedha and the team are finding a way to incorporate the same into their everyday learning. However, the devices have already managed to help the children sustain their online education.
“From the first time that the pandemic hit, to now, it’s very evident that the children have adapted to the change,” Sumedha says.
“While they were confused about how to learn in the initial days of the pandemic, they are now perfectly comfortable with hybrid learning. So, we are hoping to see more of this magic in the coming year, now that all the kids have a device and access and as we continue our journey in this hybrid model,” she signs off.
There are millions of children in India that still do not have access to proper educational facilities, with or without the pandemic. We at BYJU’S are trying our best to reach out to these children and shape a better future for them. And with you, we can get there faster.
Through BYJU’S Give, you can help donate an old device that can benefit a child with education. Click here to learn how, and be the ray of hope for these children.
Anju is a peace-lover, a video-game addict, and a childhood doodler who imagined that the scribbles were words. This storyteller enjoys a good read, some doodling, and learning new languages. One day, she hopes to write her own story someday, and hopefully in the French language, too! She never loses hope of making the world a better place to live in.
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