Backround

  • The impact of covid has been mostly counted based on the surface views of its devastation (infected and dead) and the accompanying panic that it created all around. While  the calamitous health impact  would  undoubtedly dominate the  scenario of destruction    that the pandemic has created , a much deeper “pandemic underneath” had been progressing inexorably, rather silently and is all set to surface once the cloud fades. This has dimensions and features of a ravaged coral reef under the ocean. As we start rebuilding, this also needs early corrective measures and plans for effective recovery.

  • While economy did suffer most along with the other essential sectors - a much longer lasting, invisible injury has been inflicted on education. It still persists as a lingering lick that keeps on bleeding beyond our eyes, challenging human development in the coming decades. It is time we start walking past the sullen gray landscape that it presents currently in content that still has tunes that can vibrate with vigor and try to create a new note that resonates all around. ‘Paralekha” is an initiative that is intended to do an auxiliary  nursing job in planting new lease of life in the storm torn island named post covid  elementary education.

  • Learning loss, deficits, habit of school going and delight of school ambience have all been stampeded by a year of COVID cloud. An absolutely frightened and ‘window of opportunity” driven society and government did arrange a new aura of   Online education. However, it was accessible by less than five percent, lacked the touch - strength of physical schools in content and purpose. The absence of bilateral interactions made it lame and just an osteomalacia struck skeleton of what it could have been and should have been. Equity, one of the basic prerequisites of education, was most deficient in this makeshift continuum of education with students from the socially marginalized sections of our society suffering maximum. While all levels of schooling did incur trauma to learning as a result, elementary education has suffered maximum. This attains further significance in the light of the role of elementary education plays as foundations of knowledge and learning later in life. A recent study in Seven states of India on the state of elementary education by Azim Premji University uncovered the losses in quantitative terms. Thus, 80-92% loses have been sustained in the domains of language and numeracy – the pedestals of learning. School going habits are lost, needs reconstructive nurturing, development of an all-pervading ambience in society (villages) on the pleasure of schooling without impositions and take joy of learning beyond boundaries.

  • Quick reopening of schools, putting well planned curriculum and strategies in place are going to be the primary methods in repair and recovery of elementary education.  However, supplementary initiatives are likely to help this post covid educational reconstruction faster and more impacting over and above the school premises.

  • Women Self Help Groups (SHG) has emerged as a social force of pluripotent dimensions and diverse impact, if used in the correct context and intent. The economic freedom that they have achieved through collective action has brought them into a new found world of perception of “usefulness for social goods”. Getting them into   the mainstream development agenda beyond pure economic activism that they currently engage in, is worth exploring. This have the potential to be impacting while expanding the rim of “social capital for social reconstruction”. 

  • Also, we in a society where the spirits of volunteerism are getting mutated and muted by “what do I get of it” malady. Under such circumstances, such an initiative   could usher in a new era of social entrepreneurship   that recycles social capital through a participatory social endeavour with volunteerism as the driver. This will be complimentary and not competitive to FORMAL schools and would only add top up feeding to compensate the loss.

  • It is also expected that the mothers of the children taught, who are also part of this SHGs frequently, will get spirited and amplify the learning beyond the community learning  centres .    

Aims

Post covid recovery and reconstruction of elementary education through non formal , supplementary learning centers in communities by Women SHG groups- Social capital for social gains.

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Specific Objective
  • To see whether a broad community based and participatory teaching initiative can complement / augment mainstream school-based approach in achieving fast and effective recovery of learning and habits in elementary schooling in the peri COVID era, focusing on marginalized children.

  • To see whether the Women SHGs, whose new found economic sovereignty has ushered in a new era of potential social productivity and freedom for themselves, could be effectively imbibed into broader development agenda as organizers and educators. 

  • To imbibe the spirit of teaching in every’ “mother” – “TEACHING FOR SELF HELP

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Methods

Paralekha in Community Learning Centres

Community Learning Centers are run by the SHG didis before and after school hours either in their own courtyard/verandah or common community spaces for one and a half hours every day, either before or after school. The purpose of these learning centers is to get students reconnected with the process of learning and support them in recovering learning that has been lost due to prolonged school closure. Each SHG member will take charge of 15 to 20 primary school students.

Participant Organisations  

  

  • Liver Foundation, West Bengal (www.liverfoundation.in) – Concept , organization, coordination, implementation, scaling up.

  • Pratham Educational Foundation (www.pratham.org) – Technical inputs including training and oversight.

  • Vikramshilla Education resource society (www.vikramshila.org) – content – pedagogy, oversight of implementation and scale up – Bankura.