The financial situation of the parents is very concerning for the majority of the children studying with the school. It is noted that often parents drop out the students and push them into child labor or other social atrocities to make ends meet. With COVID-19, this situation has become worse.
The COVID-19 study conducted by the management reflects that 55% of children have dropped out of studies despite the free digital alternative. Only 0.01% of the parents approached the school for children’s books in the new academic year 2020-2021. It is evident that the rural poor and migrant workers feel the school fees as a burden as they are struggling for existence as no fee payments were recorded in the organization for the academic year 2020-2021.
Therefore, an initial funding round organized by Winnerz Trust to support this program targeted six months of sustainability for the school. The objective was to help migrant parents with a complete fee- waiver and ensure that students continue to enroll and study in the academic year 2020-2021. On Day 1 of the announcement of the fee-waiver, the management noted some families approaching the school for the books. Yet, less than 1% of the school children have access to the books of the new academic year as poor parents consider putting their hands to work for livelihood support.
Some of these concerns raised by Ms. Madhuri Aggarwal have been covered by the press. To ensure and the students have access to education, the school has channelized the students into the “WhatsApp” group such that the education can be delivered in form of online video lessons.
To assess the impact of COVID-19 and the success of this digital pilot, a study was conducted by the management of the organization. It was noted that only 45% of children could pivot to the “WhatsApp” based study model. This indicates that a majority of the school children do not have access to internet resources to access digital education solutions.
The launch of the ‘BACK TO SCHOOL’ program is aimed to improve the literacy rate by providing poor children access to education and bring them back from any social atrocities they are pushed into due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The parents have requested scholarships for the whole academic year else they will have to discontinue the child’s enrolment from school. The current funding has only made this possible until September 2020. The school is actively seeking scholarship aid for Rs. 900 a child per month and has only been able to cover a few handfuls of children this year in 2021. Also, one of the main focuses here is supporting girl children as families due to gender bias, support male children more.
The successful implementation of this effort requires forthcoming funding rounds for the following:
Hand sanitizer dispensers, tissues, dustbins, dustbin bags, and supply of hand sanitizer
Additional furniture such as cupboards and racks to support no bag policy
Protective gears and supplies such as COVID-19 emergency kit, plastic aprons, gloves, and masks for teachers, management staff, and other personnel
Contribution towards water bill, cleaning supplies, and disinfectant sprays
Sponsorships and volunteers for medical camps
Overtime structure for teachers and staff to ensure they contribute to the COVID-19 implementation with extra time allocation required in case of transportation audits, checking test papers and workbooks in school, increased workload in infrastructure maintenance and supply management
The management is actively looking for support and wants to ensure these facilities can be organized before the schools reopen. The above list is not exhaustive but indicative.