Unlock School – A Varthana initiative to bring learning back on track

Varsha

According to the study conducted by Azim Premji University 2021, 92% of primary school students have lost at least one language ability from the previous year due to COVID-19

Schools across the country were completely shut for 9 months after the onset of COVID-19 pandemic beginning March-2020. The pandemic disrupted the education system around the world. It badly affected the students learning and many have fallen behind months in their learning levels due to lack of access to learning. Only 38% of Indian school kids have access to the internet and e-learning still remains a challenge (Kantar 2020 Report). 70% of parents feel that online classes have not been effective for the learning of their children (Azim Premji University report 2020) 

If you look at the learning loss suffered by students. According to the study conducted by Azim Premji University 2021, 92% of primary school students have lost at least one language ability from the previous year. Mathematical abilities, too, have suffered considerable damage. 82% of the students in Classes 2 to 6 had lost at least one mathematical ability at the same time due to school closure induced by COVID-19

This nature of learning losses is serious enough to call for action at all levels.

Many schools tried adapting to the challenges brought in by the pandemic by using the internet and online teaching as the primary tools. The worst affected students remained those who had little to no access to the internet and mobile devices, primarily students from government and low-income private schools.

As an organisation, Varthana continued to strive for better education for children everywhere. There was a strong need for more action for continuous learning given the circumstances mentioned above. In the same spirit, Varthana launched the ‘Unlock School’ program in January 2021, at no cost to the schools.

Varthana’s Unlock School provided students of grade 1-8 weekly workbooks which are remedial in nature to building the foundational literacy and numeracy skills. Varthana provided learning content for students of Grade I to VIII consisting of worksheets for English and Maths for 5 lakh students in more than 400+ schools across the country in phase I.  

Unlock School

School teachers were trained through an elaborative orientation session to build capacity and introduce the minute details of the program to all stakeholders. Monitoring and evaluation for these worksheets were provided in both online and offline mode. Constant support was made available to the schools, teachers and other stakeholders in the form of a dedicated team of Education Specialists, Program Managers and a helpline.

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Students & parents were provided with a daily calendar to schedule and track down activities outlined in the program. Providing students with workbooks ensured that the learning continued irrespective of the availability of the internet or access to smartphones. In addition to this, visual aids, QR codes for educational videos and engaging parent activities were accommodated in the workbooks as an add ons to complement the learning. 

The first phase of the program spanned over ten states all over the country. Logistics were arranged for seamless printing, packaging and distribution of workbooks in faraway towns. This has resulted in access to learning materials to students who have had no learning experience for the past 9 months. Schools, and parents welcomed this initiative with great enthusiasm. 

“This is a nice initiative by Varthana. Students will immensely benefit from this. At present, students are not learning continuously due to COVID and remote engagement” said Hemadas Manikpuri – School Promoter of Maa Sharada Vidya Mandir School, Kharora, Raipur.

BVS Rao-Chairman of St Marks Higher Secondary School said “No other finance company does beyond loans for thier customers. Its only Varthana who has helped us during the school closure with worksheets, learning materials for teachers and students. Now with Unlock School Program students are receiving workbooks from Varthana to learn remotely”.

The phenomenal response for this initiative deeply emphasizes the importance of collaboration and support from many stakeholders at this crucial hour. We cannot let down close to 30% of students of this country studying in low-income schools (Indian Development Review-BPS 2018). Over a period of the next three months, Varthana plans to reach out to around 1500 schools impacting 12 lakh students all over the country. Varthana believes that initiatives like this will help in stopping the ripple effects that pandemics of this nature have on education and development of society.

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