This past March the academic year in India was suddenly cut short due to COVID-19 constraints. No one knows when and in what form schools will resume. Since the artisans make educating their children such a priority, they save and budget all year so that they can pay for fees, uniforms and books. Because of the lockdown, however, the women have not had their usual income. They have even had to dip into their savings for daily expenses. They worry that they will not be able to afford school costs.
Their children may suffer in several other ways from the stay at home mandate. Aside from missing the final lessons at school, they are also unable to attend summer enrichment programs. Normally Share runs programs designed to keep the children challenged, engaged and learning. As a replacement Share has put together on-line lessons. Unfortunately, this does not work well because few artisans' own computers and the children have to use family cell phones with limited data plans.
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. We have started the Education Uninterrupted fund to help the artisans pay for school expenses, provide the older students with tablets, and augment their data plans so they can take advantage of research and programs. Share staff members are preparing extra tutorial session, on-line at first, and in-person when that becomes possible, to make up for decreased school attendance. 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.