Despite the improvements in literacy rates across the country, the access to quality education remains a challenge for several sections of the country. I’m primarily talking about the population in rural India right now. While you’d find government schools building in most corners of the country, many among them are either low functioning or defunct altogether. That’s primarily because of two factors: 1. Lack of monitoring of school’s progress and 2. The local population’s disenchantment of these formal education when they’d don’t see any value. With new technologies that are already available, it’s not difficult to track how the school has been doing over time and pull up the responsible people when needed, it’s the second reason that needs more attention and effort. Hope is a prerequisite for education. You can’t teach a person who doesn’t believe those teachings would improve his/her life. And it’s needed not only in children but also their parents. Parents need to have hope that their children will be able to get good jobs and a good life if they are educated and the children need to believe that whatever they learn they will be able to use at some point in their lives to make it better. I was volunteering at a rural place called Rajakhet in Uttarakhand some time back and I was curious about people’s perspectives about quality education. A general response I got from the local educators was that the parents are not too interested in their kids' education because they feel that even after all their high grades all they’d amount to is working for five thousand rupees in a blue collared job. It’s not the type of job but the pay here that should be emphasized. They said that if that’s the best case scenario then why not let them do the things they can without a formal education. In some ways they were right, there’s a huge disconnect between the jobs available in the market and the people who need one. Also if there’s a high supply of workers, the salary for that role automatically decreases. I remember having taken up my first job at three lac rupees in an IT services company like many others in my peer group. And I also remember that this starting amount was exactly the same that my cousin had received when he’d started in a similar company 7 years before me. In fact, due to a high supply of engineers, the starting salary had been reduced to two lac rupees in some big MNCs and a new lower role was created to justify it. In Rajakhet, there was also an upcoming trend of going to places in the Middle East as blue collared workers and since it paid much higher than what they’d make in India with the same skill set, it made obvious sense to go for them. While they are great opportunities for the local population, options like these only contribute in eroding any interest in high quality education all the more. It tends to become a cyclical issue in some ways where low quality education produces a workforce with lower skills who then either take up blue collar jobs, get disheartened by where their formal education has landed them and finally lose interest in ensuring good education for the next generation altogether. One regular fix is to go to a metro city so that their kids are able to get a good education. There are several ways in which we can improve this situation though. First among them is by strengthening the education system by ensuring qualified teachers are recruited and then monitoring the school’s progress on a regular basis. Second, often, the schools themselves are suffering with a lack of resources and despite all the right intentions they aren’t able to improve too much. We need to step up and help every school that is in that position. After all it’s the future of our country that depends on it. Third, running campaigns to inform parents the benefits of education and imploring them not only to send their children to school but also in taking interest in their education. Fourth, connecting curriculum with jobs in the market. This is more for the higher ages and should be done to reduce dropout rates. And fifth, creating a proper connection between the job market and education system so that students know that if they qualify the school getting a decent job wouldn’t be too difficult. Even if these aren’t very high paying jobs they should at least pay enough to make basic formal education worth it.
- Mar 27, 2020
- 5 min read
Updated: Apr 1, 2020
These are difficult times for all of us. No matter how much we insulate ourselves, the impact of Covid-19 will be felt for a very long time. As we move forward, we at allLearn wanted to share some ideas.
Firstly, India has gone in a full lock down for the next 21days and people have been asked not to step out of their homes unless it’s only for the essential items. As we prepare to lock ourselves in our homes, we want to assure our customers that our team will be available for any queries and support during all weekdays 9AM to 9PM.
While the situation looks difficult there is no reason to panic buy. There are enough resources to go around. On most days, many of our resources are wasted, if anything. Hoarding of groceries and essentials will surely increase their prices and not leave enough for others who can’t buy them at higher rates. So we must ensure, we don’t panic.
The schools we work with cater to children from very vulnerable families. Many of these families don’t have enough to feed their kids and are already dealing with challenges and diseases that a large section of the society has long overcome. They’re definitely not as well equipped to deal with Corona virus, one, because of a lack of knowledge and two, because it’s harder for them to find soaps, sanitizers, food and essentials. This is a top-down disease though. The ones first infected weren’t the ones living in slums but the ones flying in from other countries. And yet no rich or poor person is completely safe from the virus. In some ways, this situation has forced us to re-evaluate the mental and societal walls that we’ve built to keep the ‘Other’ out. But this is not a time to dwell or blame, we must learn and support one another, beyond the barriers.
We’re definitely in uncharted territories now, but if we are rational, have trust in each other and make the lives of our doctors, cleaners, and service personnel easier, we will get through. Once we do that, it just becomes a matter of time.
Things to keep in mind
Some things to keep in mind while dealing with this scare: 1. Firstly, stop going out, curfew or not, unless it’s for medicines or groceries — i.e. your survival depends upon it. 2. Keep clean: There is enough information available on this. As for the most basic ones: Wash your hands 4 times a day; Don’t touch your face; Sneeze in your elbow or handkerchief and NOT in your hands and; If possible, keep your distance from the elderly and kids. 3. If you are working from home: Find a good place to sit and work from in peace; Ensure you find a place with good WiFi network, a good chair, stick to a schedule, have food on time. 4. Exercise, Meditate and Diet: This can be a great time for building good habits and getting rid of bad ones. You won’t succumb to lethargy if you keep yourself busy. Have coffee, it helps with binging. Avoid junk food; Try some mild exercises like this or this. 5. Spend time with family- Often during our day to day struggles we’re not left with enough time for our loved ones. Here’s the best time to reclaim some of those moments. Eat or Read or Watch a movie together.
Help out the weak
As offices, malls and construction sites shut down, the people working as cleaners, watchmen and a whole group of people in blue collared jobs are affected drastically. Especially because can’t work from home to make up for it either. They and their families will be worse affected. A number of people are on daily contracts, which means they are low on money, have no jobs, and will have a very hard time buying food and medicines. We recently saw a LinkedIn post that said a number of people were traveling by trains a few days back in such times and many online were totally aghast at how irresponsible the people were. We have to understand that many of these people are migrant labourers. If they aren’t able to feed their family here, they’d naturally want to return to their villages where if anything they’ll be able to find some food. Unfortunately, when they do meet at stations or travel together, they might just be taking the virus along.
We can help our fellow citizens by making them feel secured where they are. - The easiest way you can do this is by calling and asking the people working in your offices or homes if you can help them with food, soaps or medicines. Delivery of items is a major hurdle but with ideas like this and this I’m sure we can find a way. - Secondly do not cut your employees' pays. If anything reduce the pay if you need to. - Do not cut jobs either. These are difficult times, there’s a high chance that your company’s revenues have fallen. Be transparent with your employees though, they will understand the pay reductions as long as it doesn’t seem like taking an advantage of the situation. - Help their kids get education. The schools catering to students from poor families have already been doing a great job. If we simply support them, they’d be able to reach far more students and have the infrastructure to provide them with a good quality education. While schools remain shut, many of them are helping provide food and other essentials. You could fund such schools here.
Doing our bit
Schools and students were the first affected of this pandemic were rightly shut down early. While many schools have moved their classes online, some aren’t able to. To ensure that students from under-served places are not left out due to a lack of means, we’re working with a few teachers to help conduct free online classes. The classes would be 1–2 hours each day and the intention is to ensure the learning cycle is not broken We’ve created a simple page where teachers will be listing down all the classes that they’re conducting and students will be able to attend them via their own or their parents’ phones. Since internet isn’t always predictable, students will also be able to join the classes via phone calls too. Their assessments can be conducted on the phones itself. Our tools are capable of handling that. If you run a free or budget school and need advice on how to get your classes online, simply drop us a WhatsApp message on: +91 99103 68828 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get back to you.