This past March the academic year in India was suddenly cut short due to COVID-19 and schools have still not reopened. In the absence of in-person teaching, the schools have not stepped up with any real plans. Public schools have sent some worksheets to students via phones, but the practice has been erratic and limited. Many of the artisans have sacrificed to send their children to better schools which charge a nominal fee, but these have not filled in the gap, either. No schools have organized on-line learning, which worries the artisans and their children. Education for their children is the artisans' #1 priority as it is the best way for their children to improve their lives.
We realize how important it is for the children to stay on track and engaged. To this end the Share social workers have been transformed into instructors as they create and manage lessons. Artisans' children who have graduated are also being hired and trained to assist in implementing the lesson plans. Each grade's curriculum has been analyzed so that they can focus on major themes. Our goal is to cover a minimum of 60-70% of the curriculum. We also aim to make it fun to learn! This system cannot fully replace schools, but the hope is that the students will be better prepared when they do return to regular classes, and that their enthusiasm for learning is maintained.
We have set up small learning groups which learn through in-person instruction and Google Meet sessions. We have some computers which are at the disposal of the students and are planning to purchase more to meet the need. Because the schools will remain closed for the foreseeable future, some private tutorial classes have started up to cover the required material for each level. We are encouraging the students to join these classes and paying the fees where needed.
Below is a glimpse of the 5th grade schedule put together by the Share staff which shows the thought and detail they have put into covering the curriculum materials.
Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. It is vitally important that the momentum be carried on, that these children of uneducated mothers stay in school and fulfill their potential. The Indian school system is exam-driven. While the exams at all levels have been postponed, at some point these children will have to be prepared to take them in order to follow their dreams.