Education in COVID times: A multi-front issue
School closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed lesser privileged children and families into multidimensional poverty. The schools shut down has deprived them not only of education but also healthcare, nutrition, clean water, the company of friends, and entertainment such as outdoor play.
Source – UNICEF, 2020
Loss of income and social safety nets has triggered increased domestic violence, sexual abuse, child labour, child marriages and impacted children’s mental well being and is creating downward spirals that may crush an entire generation.
Socio-economically weaker families have had to live in a locked-down condition ever since the pandemic began. Increasing pressures to provide for the family’s essential needs often makes the child’s education first casualty, creating a downward spiral that has severe ramifications for the child, the household and the country on the whole.
We need to strengthen efforts to ensure the revival of economic, physical, mental and familial health. Without support, the parents and caregivers from the underprivileged communities won’t be able to protect and provide for the children in their families.
Additionally, there is a great need to empower communities with timely information and guidance about government schemes, benefits, assistance to help them cope up with new pressures and realities imposed by COVID-19.
COVID-19 has pushed the lesser privileged families to the brink of hopelessness regarding the future of their children. The economic, physical, mental, education, learning, and psychosocial gaps are critical and severe. Only through a holistic approach can we raise hope and give a chance to a child born in a family without means.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, KHUSHII’s commitment towards its adopted communities took the shape of a holistic and effective COVID response to ensure that children and their families are protected and supported.
Our frontline workers reached out and connected with our adopted communities, learning about challenges that emerged on almost a daily basis. The team created an active network using direct messaging, phone calls, and social media to learn about where help is needed and disseminate information to empower communities.
Essential supplies such as dry rations, hygiene kits and basic commodities, including medicines, were distributed to the needy.
Addressing the challenge of keeping children learning at home, educators at KHUSHII started online classes and outreach through telephone. They plan a routine together with the children, have open conversations and conduct online activities for them. Alongside, they engage with the parents to share tips for supporting home-schooling.
KHUSHII established two “ADAPT Impact: digitally-enabled community learning centres” for children with no access to remote learning. The centres provide safe and digitally connected spaces within walking distance from children’s homes. Professionals with a credible track record manage the centres implementing high-quality and culturally competent programming, thus ensuring health, safety and continuity of learning for children.
As part of the holistic COVID response strategy, we support communities with life skills education and mental wellbeing workshops through well trained and qualified psychological counsellors to help the child and community face new challenges and emerging realities.
Our “Shiksha Aur Vikas” community development program continues to train women and youth under various skill development initiatives to prepare them to enter the workforce.
Children education and development is impossible to achieve in isolation, and it needs a holistic approach, one that involves children, their families, the community, schools and other stakeholders. We at KHUSHII are working towards making this happen for a better future.