We are happy to present the project report of the project entitled “Give a Smile to 3000 Slum children to attend school” before the donor agency and all other well-wishers. This was the most difficult quarter and we had to take a lot of difficulties to cross this quarter of intervention due to unexpected outbreak of Corona pandemic in India. However, with all these odds, the pandemic has given us opportunities for stress regulation, research for alternative learning, online communication and many other ways of communication and social order.
Education is a fundamental right of all children in India. Primary Education in India suffers from many deficiencies. In order to impart quality education to these marginalized slum children Ruchika started its first initiative in the form of Platform school in the year 1985 in Bhubaneswar. In addition, Ruchika is running Remedial Education centre in slums of Bhubaneswar and providing remedial coaching to marginalized slum children to increase academic proficiency and to reduce dropout rate.
GOAL AND OBJECTIVES OF THE PROJECT:
The Programme Objective was to reach out to all the slum children of Bhubaneswar to increase academic proficiency and targeting a significant reduction of drop-out in the schools as well as ensuring Right to Education Act, in its true spirit in the target area.
Specifically, the programme focused on improving the lives of the marginalized slum children through a three-pronged approach:
The programme aimed at directly benefiting slum children through remedial education centres and school going children through activities implemented in slums and in neighbourhood schools.
Ruchika intervenes in 65 most vulnerable slums of Bhubaneswar for last 10 years. The objective of the program is to bring a sustainable and right based change in the community by using Remedial Education as a platform. It targets children in the age group of 6 to 11 years with remedial coaching, 12 to 18 years of girls and boys with learning life skills including Reproductive Health Rights, Community with education and awareness on child rights and other human rights.
Changing the attitude of people and making them role models, making universal schooling a people’s movement and upgrading the academic skill and proficiencies of all children at par with the non-slum children studying in the school, training them to demand their rights, and creating a conducive environment in the slums to ensure all rights and putting all children into the safety net are some of the huge tasks the organization has planned in these slums. It needs time to educate and strengthen the care givers and duty bearers and to enable them to fulfil their obligations towards children. This urges the organization to continue intervention at least for two more years in the same slums. During the forthcoming two years, the organization plans to strategically focus on developing strength of the children as well as the community, care givers and duty bears to be the role models and protagonists of Child Rights activism.
PANDEMIC CREATES HURDLE TO REMEDIAL EDUCATION:
TheCovid-19 Pandemic has made all the educational schools across the world adapt teaching online. Social distancing and restrictive movement policies have disturbed traditional educational practices. Now the Odisha Government relaxes the lockdown restrictions and everything is becoming normal, still the educational institutions and Schools have not reopened for children of class 1 to class 5. Therefore, Ruchika continues its e-learning classes by adopting OBS studio for making videos and uploading videos in you-tube.
Our Remedial teachers are now visiting to the community and guiding the children by maintaining social distance. As many of parents have no Smartphone, so it is required to take physical follow up of the children. This makes the children clear understanding on their study and easiest for evaluation of their study. Our Basti Education Committee and Balika Mandal members are also assisting the children in their study and at the same time giving health education to keep them healthier during this Pandemic. However, Ruchika is continuing the education for the children to enhance their academic proficiency.
SUPPORTING THE CONTINUATION OF E-LEARNING CLASSES DURING THE PANDEMIC:
The Covid-19 Pandemic affected all areas of life including education. The situation of Covid-19 challenged the education system across the world and forced to shift to an online mode of teaching. E-learning classes have played a vital role during this pandemic, helping schools and student learning during the closure of school. While adapting to the new changes, students are needs to be gauged and supported accordingly. During this pandemic our teachers and cluster educators have prepared videos and uploaded in you-tube. As it is new for all students as well as parents so all our Cluster educators and remedial teachers are taking follow-up of the class and conducting assessment to evaluate the academic progress.
Parents are the first and foremost teachers of every student. In case of online learning, now parents are supporting to their children in their studies. Our Basti Education Committee members and Balika Mandal members are also guiding and taking follow up of the classes. In the same way our BEC members are trained to look over the studies of our remedial children. The remedial teachers also visited the home and guided to children. The Cluster Educators were focused on the academic’s issues of the children. The low performers of children, late starters and no starters as well as slow learning capacities of children were given importance in the process. Those parents are having no Smartphone for e-learning we have connected them with BEC and Balika Mandal Members to continue their studies.
SUPPORTING CHILDREN’S MENTAL HEALTH DURING THE COVID-19:
The prolonged lockdown, economic stress of the family and the loss of the school support system and routines can all result in psychosocial stress and mental health issues of children.The corona virus outbreak has caused major disruptions to daily life and children are feeling these changes deeply. While the return to school will be not only welcome but exciting for many students, others will be feeling anxious or frightened. The lockdown restricted children from stepping out of their homes. This was critical for their psychosocial wellbeing and development. Closure of School prevented children from access to learning skills and limited their interactions, Children are sometimes feeling confused and at loss with the current situation, leading to frustrations and anxiety. In the mean time, Ruchika provides psychosocial support to the children. Remedial teachers and all supervisory team visited the children and talked to them.They were educated on the measures to prevent transmission of Corona virus.
Parents counselling is one of most important part of this programme. Counselling helps the parents of children to examine their roles and they are made aware of the parent-child relationship. After lock down several domestic violence cases were found in the slum. As many parents lost their livelihood and there was no availability of jobs of the parents even when lock down was lifted, their financial conditions become worse. So the parents were provided with regular counselling and they were made aware of the changing economic condition of the country. We tried to give them hope that this problem will surely go away. They have to wait for some time and find some alternative jobs. In addition parents are counselled for to take vaccine against covid-19.
SITUATION OF CHILDREN DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC:
The World Health Organisation has declared the new Corona virus outbreak - COVID-19 as a global pandemic. It has urged upon all member-states to take urgent and aggressive action to contain the spread of the pandemic. Only a few times in the history of mankind have human beings as a race faced challenges beyond their comprehension. With advances in science, this phenomenon has become a rarity. The breadth and depth of such challenge is staggering in a country like India where hundreds of millions of citizens are destitute and countless millions live in packed urban areas (slums) with poor sanitation and weak public health system.
The spread of the corona virus in slums was faster than in the non-slum areas Bhubaneswar itself is surrounded with 436 slums proliferated in shanty areas with a population of more than 4.5 lakhs of which over 1.5 lakhs are children. Overcrowding, lack of clean water, poor sanitation, social dependency, larger number of human contacts, low disease immunity of dwellers, besides poor medical facilities made for tremendous speed and size of virus transmission in these slums.
Poor quality of air in Bhubaneswar slums especially those spread across railway lines are a common cause for respiratory diseases that further reduces the respiratory tract’s ability to shut the corona virus down. The sudden imposition of lockdown in India and movement restrictions by the State Govt to stop the spread of the corona virus had thrown the lives of children. During these challenging times, our children were found disorganised because of the closer of schools and movements of restriction. Normally the children are highly vulnerable and restricted in their home. On the other hand the poor parents were not able to go out for work and earn for their livelihood because of lockdown in the state.
EFFORTS FOR SLUM CHILDREN DURING THE PANDEMIC:
Lifechanged suddenly for the whole world when COVID-19 arrived, and with it came the need for people to quarantine themselves in their homes. Children became immersed in a new reality which has had a huge impact on their lives. In the meantime, Ruchika has continued the team effort to continue the education of children through e-learning. Our team has provided psychosocial support to the children and their families become better prepared to cope with emergencies. We teach them on proper hand washing, use of mask and maintaining social distance. We share the concerns of parents and guardians that children must continue learning and should remain protected from exposure to covid-19. Teachers and supervisory team also have taken follow up support to parents and guardians in addressing the learning needs of children. We have also distributed ration kit to the neediest children during this pandemic.
STRENGTHENING ADOLESCENT GIRLS DURING THE PANDEMIC:
The Covid-19 Pandemic disturbs the normal life of the people all over World. There is always a fear of Covid infections and all are restricted in their home. This is more difficult for the slum people to keep themselves protected from the virus because of the overcrowding and inadequate access to safe water, sanitation and other infrastructure. In the meantime, Balika Mandal Members are playing vital roles to educate community in the context of Covid-19. They are trained and encouraged to meet the crisis as their participation is playing vital role. Balika Mandal members are educated children on wearing of mask and hand washing. At the same time they are educating community people to maintain social distance, get vaccination against covid-19 and follow all Covid-19 guidelines.
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