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iLearn-Expanding learning beyond classroom

iLearn – Learning Expanding Beyond Classroom

ARCH Foundation has launched an initiative ‘iLearn – expanding learning beyond classroom’ reaching out to 5000 plus children from the remote part of Gujarat ensuring their safe return to school after it reopens and fully functional. In times to come ARCH intends to expand and cover at least 20,000 students and in turn generating employment for a minimum of 400 youths from the grass-root level. ARCH believe "learning under the shadow of a pandemic should not stop, if the children cannot go to school, let's create entire communities into schools!" 

A global pandemic like Covid-19 has brought a serious altercation in the way the world works. UNESCO estimates that 23.8 million school-going children may drop out of school next year. Most of these students belong to government-aided schools that are not equipped with digital learning. 20% of girl students from migrant families face the threat of being married off instead of finishing their matriculation. With almost zero income, today, the focus of the underprivileged society has turned to mere survival where education has pointedly taken a back-seat. The new government policy aims to bring 2 crore students back to mainstream education. ARCH Development Foundation has been working in the field of education for the underprivileged society and to address this mushrooming super-problem and nip it at the bud it has launched iLearn. 

 “ARCH as an organization is working with 150 plus Government aided schools and during the COVID-19 pandemic situation, we realized that many students have not yet enrolled this year, which is a matter of great concern as this would mean that these children may drop out from school," says Ms. Sonkee Shah, CEO, ARCH Foundation. Adding further “Also assuming in the best hope schools can open as fast as possible, the loss of so many months will keep the schools and boards grapple to cover up the loss. Where time cannot be bought, hand-holding, and supporting the institutions narrow the time divide would be a big leap in covering up the lost time and returning to a stronger nation in the shortest possible time. And school or no school ARCH believes – Learning is and in evident component and the basic right of any child and it should continue to shape a more practical and strong nation in the future.”

“Garnering community support for education in such times is important, where the learning does not stop. Thus village volunteers are selected and trained to conduct curricular and extra-curricular activities to help children learn cognitively and creatively.”

While middle-income schools are infrastructure ready in terms of digitalization of the process of learning, government-aided schools in the villages are not ready to meet the change. The economic crises of parents only worsen the situation. The pandemic has forced many parents in these villages to withdraw their children who are in the transitional phase from school due to multiple reasons. The project iLearn aims to make the students ready to join the schools when they re-open without having the fear of not having learned anything. This activity supports the children's learning as a bridge that can connect them easily to the continuity of learning once schools reopen. To ensure that maximum students are part of this program various stakeholders like parents, teachers, and school management are also involved in this project to make it one big community-driven initiative. 

“The biggest challenge of this program is to retain students in the classes, the children are burdened with several household responsibilities at a very young age. The challenge is not just to counsel the students to be a part of this program but also to counsel their parents and change their mindset to make them aware of the importance of education. But at the same time ARCH Foundation has been lucky enough to find self-motivated and enthusiastic volunteers from these villages who are deeply involved in this project and also the support provided by the local schools to run the community classes for these students”, says Hardik Patel, Project in charge for iLearn. 

Balancing with Covid-19

Adapting to the new normal, it is ensured that every volunteer, every student, and any individual involved in this project is wearing a mask and is following all safety norms. Through this program, measures have been taken to also create awareness among the village people about the Covid-19 virus and the safety precautions that should be taken. Other than this, during the sessions, the children are involved in different kinds of interactive learning techniques. The modules designed are such which focuses not only on academic learning but also on various creative learning which would help the students to think out of the box.  Art and craft activities, science experiments are also incorporated to make the learning process more fun-filled and interactive for the students. 

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