Learning Never Stops-Deploying Simple Solutions for Blended Learning Program
It’s a known fact now that life as we knew it before COVID-19 has changed drastically. Almost everything known to humanity is moving toward or moving to a digital medium. While that has been quite a struggle for nearly all, it has been all the more challenging for the marginalized kids attending public school.
Children like Lakshmi, an 11- year old class 5 student from PS Ahmedganj in kapsethi cluster of Chitrakoot block, started improving academically despite her intellectual disability when the pandemic struck and all of us were forced into lockdowns. So was the case with Himanshu, a 10- year old from Asoha cluster Pahadi block, Uttar Pradesh, who started to grow out of his introverted personality and showed leadership qualities just as the schools started closing.
While studying in a remote environment was a challenge for all the children, but more so for these children, who require individual and physical attention in order to be able to follow instructions, understand, and learn. Moreover, the lockdown hindered the growth they had made since they were specifically working with the help of a Prajayatna volunteer, who was facilitating the process by coordinating with teachers and parents and regularly monitoring the progress of the children.
While the reach is increasing and educational facilities are theoretically accessible to everyone, there are many issues facing these schools, the key being issue lack of engagement and community ownership. The current framework of public schools is loosely structured and needs to be linked with all the stakeholders involved. With these children, it’s not only about academics but the kind of environment the child has. While Prajayatna has played of pivotal role in setting up the infrastructure and ecosystem needed for children to learn and develop, the pandemic has brought up some new challenges in taking this journey even further.
At this point, Prajayatna felt the need to intervene and found a way to work around the COVID-19 restrictions with their remote-learning program - Ghar Par Seekho Sikhao. They started reaching the children at home and connected with the teachers and parents using an inclusive activity-based approach. Online activity-based worksheets were distributed to kids to ensure that they are constantly connected through Whatsapp. The worksheets and the workbooks were then distributed to the children physically and a blended learning approach was devised in order to reach those children who had no access to digital devices. They distributed nutrition kits for the families of differently-abled kids and worked on the children’s development through timely inputs and regular follow-ups with parents as well as community discussions.
This helped keep parents engaged in the child’s learning process, which has been the key goal of Prajayatna since its inception. It was then that Sreeja, the founder of Prajayatna, was working with MAYA and identified the need for the engagement of all stakeholders in the child’s development process. With the help of Mary, who has strong knowledge of curriculum development, assessment techniques, research, and training, along with the team, have been able to design a learning process that looks at the holistic development of all children including those with disabilities.
Prajayatna has worked with 75 schools in Uttar Pradesh and helped more than 6000 students including amongst them almost 75 children with disabilities and still continuing with the good work via blended learning.