The pandemic has highlighted the class divide more than ever since the post independence era, in a country like ours which is fraught with class, caste and economic hierarchies. COVID 19 has exposed the vulnerabilities of our system and the relentless distress of the poor and marginal communities in our society.
These unprecedented times have made us ponder over our privilege and a wave of humanism has created a ripple effect at different spectrums of our society. People are coming out of their safe homes to help the less fortunate, who don’t have any resources amid the lockdown to make ends meet or kids who don’t have the basic amenities and resources to continue with their education.
Delhi based Foundation, Saarthi Education, the Founding Director Ankit Arora, said, “ The pandemic has exposed the cracks of our fragile system with glaring economic inequality. Chances of financial security have dwindled for low income groups owing to the pandemic situation. It becomes imperative for individuals, civil society, educationists and federal/ central governments to come together and help the children who are on the verge of losing their academic year.”
Saarthi Education envisions to improve the foundational literacy and numeracy of children across low-income communities in India by empowering mothers.
As the lockdown started, Saarthi leveraged its network of 75+ women field workers/ Relationship Managers to provide relief efforts to its 2000 families across Delhi. The RMs were instrumental in providing verified information to parents about the lockdown, government schemes. This was followed by a constant check on fake news – in the time of crisis to avoid unnecessary fear and spread of illogical remedies for the pandemic. It became critical to separate fact from fiction which was duly done and managed by the appointed Relationship Managers who were constantly in touch with the Foundation. Saarthi also raised ~10L from friends and family to provide immediate relief to struggling families in the form of direct cash transfers.
Verified COVID-19 information disseminated within the community became an imperative function of the appointed managers of the community.
As relief efforts continued, Saarthi shifted its focus back to their core work. They decided to ensure that learning must continue for all the children in the communities they have been working in.
Arora further adds that they have been working with almost 8000 families and plan to actively reach out to more in a post-lockdown situation.
Saarthi started a Whatsapp cum pen and paper model for parents and guardians responsible for passing instructions to the child for activities and worksheets designed by the Foundation.
The programme called SWIM keeps in mind the physical and socio-economic constraints of the community and a resistance to change existing behaviours.
However, with diligent execution, Saarthi has been able to create substantial on ground impact in the COVID scenario. There has been a steep increase in response from 20-90% in a span of two months which is testimony to widespread adaptation of the model by guardians and children alike.