Digantar School in Jaipur Adapts to New Learning Hurdles

By: Sukeerti, AKP India Coordinator

INDIA | The current pandemic has brought unprecedented changes in almost everything. Slowly, the world has accepted living in the virtual world. Unfortunately, for many living in less privileged societies, the challenges are many. Their livelihoods are severely impacted, and their children who are the first or second generation of learners are also badly hit. At AKP, one of the four pillars of our work is supporting children with the best quality education to bring equity in society. We try to support our partner NGO’s in various ways to achieve quality education in our partner communities.

Recently, I spoke with Ms Riti Das Dhankar at Digantar Vidyalay – a school in Jaipur that AKP and A&K India have supported on an annual basis since 2017. She shared details of challenges faced and the way the school is moving forward while the country remains in lockdown:

A Learning Gap Due to the Pandemic:
A lot of discourse is currently happening in the academic world amid the COVID-19 situation and the pros and cons of online education are being deliberated upon. One thing that the urban section often misses is the inaccessibility of online mediums of education for the underprivileged section of the society. If we look at Digantar Vidyalay’s immediate community, we cannot access our children through smartphones and laptops are out of the question. Distanced learning is very difficult since:
Not every household has a smartphone.
Those who have a smartphone, the average number of children per family is high.
The cost of data which would be used for each child is not affordable for the families.

These are the roadblocks we are currently facing, and these aspects make our motto of making education accessible to every child as her fundamental right, difficult to achieve.

Ongoing and future plans of Digantar to connect with children:
We at Digantar feel that lack of resources gives rise to the immense potential for innovation and new ideas. In a bid to overcome the above-mentioned hurdles, we have planned a few things which would be implemented keeping in mind the government guidelines for safety and precautions:

  • Providing worksheets to be sent home
  • Speaking over the phone for questions
  • Assigning different days where children visit school, according to book kits
  • Speaking with students over phone calls
  • Allowing one child at a time to come to school
  • Through proper social distancing, engaging with children & demonstrating some experiments. out in the community.

Our academic team has never gotten so much time to prepare TLMs (Teaching Learning Material), to create models in different subjects, to prepare and enlist activities for each chapter in all the books. Once the school opens, with these models, children will be able to grasp the concept quickly, and we hope we will be able to fill the learning gap. We have done all our base work and are now ready to start with the next phase i.e., engaging with children academically.