Aug 4, 2020

The Reality of Online Classes

Reshma, a scholar from Delhi, has her classes on Zoom from 9am-5pm every day.  She must attend this live class, while her family sits in her room and watches TV.  They don’t understand why she is on her phone all day – she gets pressure from them that this isn’t really “college”.  In addition to the pressure and lack of privacy to study, Reshma also has to navigate doing household chores throughout the day.  She is home, so she can help out, right?

Reshma tells me that it is expensive to pay for network on her phone.  Many times, she runs out and luckily her scholarship can help pay for this. 

These are common challenges among the scholars at Shadhika since the COVID-19 Pandemic has swept across India, causing a nationwide lockdown for months. 

As we continue to shift our programming to meet the needs of our young women, technology has been the forefront of conversation with our partners and our young women.  If these young women cannot access their online classes and are not able to submit assignments timely and of quality, there is potential for them to drop out of college.  This consequence will lead to marriage and all the hard work that these young women have fought for will be taken away.

We are currently working with each scholar so this does not happen, but the likelihood for them to complete college without proper technology is slim.  Our young women face a reality that is harsher than other college students – they have to navigate additional challenges at home that many others do not face.  Like Reshma, household chores and taking care of siblings is an expectation while home, which makes college classes a challenge to make a priority.  It was easier when the young women could travel to school – they were able to escape the reality at home and focus on their studies.  We are working closely with our partners and young women to support them both emotionally and academically, helping to keep their spirits up and giving them the tools they need to succeed during this time.

Thank you for your generous donations to Shadhika’s COVID-19 fund.  We hope that you can share this with your network so that we can continue to provide our young women with what they need so they do not fall behind.

Jun 2, 2020

Connectivity During COVID-19 in India

Access to technology is the only way to stay connected in the midst of lockdowns and a global pandemic – something Shadhika’s young women are quickly realizing.  India has been on a strict lockdown for many weeks now, canceling in person college classes and limiting the time and places people can travel to receive their basic essentials such as food and hygiene products.

Only a small fraction of Shadhika’s scholars have access to a laptop computer to be able to attend their virtual classes for their colleges.  Many use their mobile phones to attend Zoom calls and use up all of their data trying to connect to their school work. Others have to ask their classmates to send them notes from their lectures so they don’t fall behind because they have no access to the internet.

This is one of the major barriers our Shadhika scholars face, constantly trying to stay caught up with their classmates who don’t have to worry about connectivity.  Luckily, our young women have built a support network around them and have friends who can help them in these tough times.

Not only is technology used to their college classes, but these young women must stay connected with their NGO’s, their friends and mentors – as this is important for their mental health.  Many of our partner NGO’s are running virtual engagement programs; continuing English tutoring, mental health services and fun, engaging activities. A mobile phone is the basic tool to help these young women stay connected.

It is interesting what we can take for granted – the simple fact that many people are working remotely and have a laptop and internet connectivity at their fingertips to be able to connect to people across the world at any time of day.  What happens when this is taken away, or is not available, can create a sense of isolation.  Shadhika is working diligently with our partner NGO’s to eliminate this isolation and by providing as much support as possible.

Our girls are resilient, they are doing the best they can to finish school, stay connected with their NGOs to provide updates on their health and safety and also manage their household duties. Shadhika has started to implement virtual activities to promote a healthy lifestyle and support their emotional health.  We are excited to see the impact of these engagement activities and hope they can provide some joy during such an unpredictable time.

May 26, 2020

The Effect of Covid-19 in India's Education System

The world is fighting with COVID-19 and the situation is getting worst day by day. In India, COVID-19 positive infected patients crossed more than a lakh. Due to this situation, India has started to be under a lockdown from 24th March and this lockdown is still going on today.  It may extend for a long period of time, the future of this is uncertain. To prevent people from contracting this virus, a lockdown is one of the best ways for the 1.3 billion population of India. Through this lockdown only necessary things are open like grocery, medical, hospital, bank/ATM.

In India, from March to May is the months of exams in school, junior college, and degree college. Due to this pandemic most of the schools have announced that they will pass all the students and after this they will re-open school.  In degree college, those who are in their final year, they must give their final exam after lockdown.

COVID-19 is affecting finance, poverty, health, and the education system. All the schools and colleges are closed, but teachers and professors are trying to teach via online classes. The Education system in India wants that, however students must learn from online classes in this lockdown.

If we are seeing these virtual classes from the student’s side, do they have proper internet connection? Especially all the young women Shadhika works with, are they getting time for their virtual classes? They are at home, so they must do lot of household chores in addition to their schoolwork. I am personally seeing in my neighbors and when we talk to our Shadhika scholars that they are facing more inequality, they don’t get  time to use their mobile phone and because of lockdown, family members are getting hungry in every hour so young women have to work in the kitchen and become busy with household chores like cooking, washing utensil, dusting etc. If they get the chance for online classes, they will get disturbed with family members, because the lockdown is going on and everyone is at home, so it is difficult to attend any call or classes at home.

Shadhika scholars are participating in so many virtual classes because they do have internet, laptop and mobile. Yes, they are facing some challenges because their home is not big, but they have made schedule and trying to use time in a good way. We are appreciating all the scholars who are doing and managing all the assignment, classes, courses in this difficult time. One of our scholar Parvati from our grantee site Vacha, is attending so many virtual classes about financial quiz, mock Interview session, knowledge of COVID-19 and many more topics. Parvati got 28-30 E-Certificates. We are proud of her and the rest of the scholars who are managing time, utilizing on their skills, and learning and trying to make the best of this situation.

We do have eight scholars who are in their final year, their exams are postponed but they are learning and revising their subjects via virtual classes. Some of the scholar’s portion haven’t completed due to this lockdown so they are completing syllabus with teachers and focusing on what they are learning. It is so difficult to focus because now our daily time routine is different. Our sleep time, mealtime, and study time. When I talked to the scholars, they said they are facing some issues with feeling stressed about thoughts in their minds about the pandemic, future, money, and the responsibility. They say because it’s their final year they were thinking after their graduation they will be doing job and taking responsibility towards family, but everything has changed due to COVID-19 virus. Even they don’t know when it will finish, when they will give exam, when they will get a job. It is a very serious topic, but we feel so proud that they are giving their best in this time to learn more skills and preparing their self for future.

We are trying to connect more with our scholars, and we have planned for their virtual activities so they can learn with us and still feel connected to each other during this time.

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