COVID-19 led lockdowns across the South Asia region has put students at risk of losing about 0.5 years of their learning, which for India translates into a long-term loss of $400 billion as per the estimates of the World Bank. Most affected by this learning crisis are students from low-income communities. Data collected from the 32,000 Students that Teach For India serve highlights that 46% of the Students do not have a reliable device to learn on, 20% of the Students have migrated while 35% of them required financial and food relief during the lockdown.
Various experts believe that technology can play a significant role in addressing this challenge. Preceding two important days dedicated towards a brighter future for the children of India, National Education Day (November 11th) and Children’s Day (November 14th), Teach For India, with support from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, announced their three-year commitment to ensure learning does not stop.
Focused on Students in secondary school, the collaboration will help Teach For India in the procurement and distribution of 3000 tablets among Students of Grades 6 to 10 across Mumbai, Delhi and Pune, helping at least 15000 Students gain access to learning through technology. With blended learning, a mix of individualized online learning and traditional face-to-face learning, the program will help students build 21st-century skills which are crucial.
Teach For India’s immediate aim is to distribute the 3000 gadgets to Students who currently have no access to any digital infrastructure required for virtual learning. When schools reopen, these gadgets will be reallocated in a ‘device library’ format where each gadget can be shared by at least 5 Students, expanding the impact to 15000 Students.
A McKinsey report suggests that more than 60% of the jobs in today’s global economy demand people who rely heavily on critical thinking, creativity, and interpersonal skills such as collaboration and communication. Other surveys show that more than 60% of today’s jobs demand digital skills and technological comfort. This also gets reflected in the trend that India and various other countries are witnessing during the pandemic as job losses are more concentrated among individuals with low levels of education and those with vulnerable jobs. From the time when access to technology was seen merely as a luxury for most students, the lockdown has made access to digital, essential.
During the pandemic, Teach For India Fellows made learning accessible for Students with innovative teaching techniques and methodologies. The funding from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation will also be used to support close to 80 Fellows across Mumbai, Delhi and Pune over the next three years so that their students receive the excellent education they deserve.
“We are overwhelmed by the generosity and support being offered by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation during this crucial time where so many of our children are experiencing a loss in learning. Their commitment to put devices into the hands of our children not only demonstrates their agility in responding to a crisis but also exemplifies how committed they are to India achieving true equity.”, CEO and Founder of Teach For India, Shaheen Mistri says.
It’s a discomforting picture, to imagine Students who were already academically behind their high-income peers fall further behind, perpetuating yet another generation of poverty. We are witnessing the impact, hourly and daily, that this crisis is having on low-income communities.
“Over the last few months, we have worked closely with our partners to ensure children do not experience a disruption in learning,” said Prachi Windlass, Director, India Programs, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. “One key learning we’ve had is that lack of access to a device can be the biggest hindrance to e-learning. Teach For India’s model of device sharing among neighbourhood children or helping children to borrow one from the library is the perfect model to continue the momentum of e-learning.”
Since the initial stages of the lockdown, 32,000 Teach For India Students have been utilizing multiple forms of blended learning as a pilot. Teach For India aims at making learnings from the implementation of blended learning accessible to everyone from the education sector who wishes to leverage the learnings of this pilot program.