The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5 aims to Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. Easy Classes, the flagship project by iCFDR (Indian Centre For Development & Rights) was started with the same goal.
It is aimed at mentoring children living in the slums of Delhi. Due to multiple reasons such as the lack of financial resources, lack of school or poor familial conditions, these children have limited or no access to education. As a result, many of these children are forced to give up their dreams. iCFDR brings learning to their doorsteps to ensure these children don’t lose their hope of a better future.
The aim of these Classes is to positively impact the lives of these children by guiding them to think big creatively. The target areas for the Easy Classes are micro slums in Delhi. The goal is to work towards the holistic development of children and not just rote learning so that they become successful upright human beings. Easy Classes develop an emotional connection with each child and each one has its own story.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for such projects is even more as access to education has taken a massive hit. Universities and schools all across the world were forced to shut down due to the lockdowns; this resulted in classes and examinations getting postponed.
Gradually, educational institutions started to shift to online platforms to conduct classes and exams. Unfortunately, a lot of schools weren’t equipped enough to shift their teaching to online platforms. Not only this, but lack of training and guidance to the teaching faculty on how to operate digital platforms also led to a huge chunk of students missing out on their classes
Even if the online education model successfully operates, there are numerous problems attached to it from the perspective of students. Things like attention to an individual student, distributing academic resources (books, textbooks, etc.), real-time interaction to solve queries raised by students, etc. are all issues that arise and act as barriers for students which in turn result in poor academic performance and lack of interest in receiving formal education.
These problems are exacerbated when we look at students belonging to underprivileged sections of society. Their socio-economic status causes several problems for them, like lack of academic assistance in the form of tuition and educated parents, schools that are incapable of going online due to structural issues. All of these factors combined lead to these children dropping out of schools due to poor academic performance or lack of interest.
The attitude towards formal education among the lower strata of society within India is still not receptive enough to the importance of education which in turn increases the propensity of these children dropping out of the education system and resorting to menial jobs to support their families.
UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) recently released a projection covering 180 countries, estimating that 24 million children may not return to education in 2020 due to the pandemic. The largest share of learners at risk of not returning to school is in South and West Asia.
Easy Classes, the pilot project of ICFDR aims to democratise access to education for students belonging to the underprivileged sections of the society. These classes are mainly conducted in micro slums situated in Delhi. The teachers who conduct these classes are professionally and academically trained to teach students; they are sensitive towards the special needs of these children that make the whole classroom experience interactive and provides a safe environment to the students where they can be vocal about their thoughts.
Easy Classes play a paramount role in the lives of these children as they keep them engaged within the education system and prevent dropouts. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic iCFDR shifted these classes to online platforms so as to ensure that the classes continue.
Such projects that work for the upliftment of the underprivileged and promote Sustainable Development Goals, especially in developing nations like India play a crucial role in determining how a post COVID world would look like.