‘Padho Punjab Padhao Punjab’ : Punjab Is Making Sure Its Kids Don’t Suffer Due To Lockdown & COVID-19 Crisis

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When the first set of COVID-19 cases came out, as precautionary measures schools were the first to be closed across the country and rightly so. This has, however, meant that children’s learning outcomes would be affected, which they have been. Many private schools i.e., high income and middle-income private schools across the country have been using online learning using zoom conferencing or google hangouts to conduct classes. This has been possible primarily due to the fact that parents are able to make provision for laptops/iPads/tablets for children to be able to attend the online classes. This goes without saying that these are parents who are able to afford these gadgets for their children.

Elsewhere low-income schools have been instructing parents to make children write notes etc., for the upcoming school year. They send messages to parents on their mobile phones every day and request them to make children read a few paragraphs from each lesson each day and make notes. None of these above methodologies has been very foolproof however it’s the desire of every teacher and school that at the very least children don’t come back to schools whenever they begin with a huge slide.

Padho Punjab Padhao Punjab

The Department of school education, Punjab was also extremely worried for thousands of government school children under their care and supervision. It has decided not to leave any stone unturned to ensure that children do not lose out during the lockdown and crisis due to COVID-19. It is noteworthy that the Punjab education department has a flourishing Edusat program from 2018 onwards. They have been putting up the curriculum and lessons actively on the platform since 2018. Punjab government has a ‘Punjab Padhao, Padhao Punjab’ program through which they plan to do capacity building for over 2 lakh teachers across the state to affect the learning outcomes of lakhs of students in Punjab. Assisting them in this effort are the collective of four NGOs, Mantra4Change & Sanjhi Sikhiya, ShikshaLokam, Samarthya.

Some noteworthy achievements of the ‘Punjab Padhao Padhao Punjab’ program have been:

  • Over 82,224 school observations were systematically recorded since Sept 2019, 3 statewide PTMs across 19000 schools have been conducted with the goal of improving parent participation in their children’s learning,
  • social media campaigns
    a. for enrollments using posters and videos highlighting the facilities in the school.                                                  b.‘Proud Parents Campaign’ testimonials from existing parents to prospective parents highlighting learning  opportunities and the change they see in their children.

The dept of education decided to leverage these past efforts to ensure children still learn during the lockdown. This effort is very important because no one knows how long it would take before children can get back to schools like earlier times and study.

Special effort during lockdown due to COVID-19 crisis

Education secretary for Punjab Mr Krishan Kumar took matters into control from the very beginning. He quickly coordinated with the DEOs in the districts and within a matter of days devised a plan. They were not going to limit themselves to only the internet or mobile. They decided to use the TV and radio extensively as these would have much wider reach as they are already being present in the households. 

The administration made a detailed schedule for various subjects across the grades. They then used the radio as a means to spread the word to parents about the classes. Apart from this Gurudwara announcement systems were also used and personal messages were also sent to parents by their respective teachers. Teachers also started making video recordings of the lessons. Teachers also send reminders to parents to make children watch the video lessons being uploaded. In order to build learning habits at home, the state has also started ‘An activity a week’ campaign. Under this, the State Resource Groups are designing various activities that get disseminated to children through a mobile learning app, called Bodh. Apart from this teachers have also tried to have mobile conferencing with students wherever possible to reach children and to clear their doubts. 

Parent-Teacher Meetings during COVID-19

When the Efforts For Good team asked one of the teachers, Mrs Jaswinder Kaur, from GSSS New Power House Colony, Patiala whether she felt burdened due to excess workload or due to the fact that she herself needed to manage additional responsibilities during this time, she said, “We are prepared to do any amount of work for our children, their studies and future are very important. During the regular academic year, we address an entire class and hence we are able to reach many kids, here we are giving more personal attention to every kid. We are hoping this will benefit the child immensely.” 

Apart from this, in order to gauge how effective their initiative is, they have conducted 1-on-1 parent-teacher meetings for over 8lakh students in the 6000 senior secondary schools. Every teacher is calling parents under her and recording the feedback which the education department will use to analyse and decide further course of action. Teachers typically ask parents if children have been attending the lessons, if they have been finding them useful and if they have any difficulties. Teachers have also been giving students and their parents’ awareness on preventive measures on COVID-19. Teachers are also spreading information to parents on how they can help their children. 

Parents are very happy with this initiative. Efforts For Good team had a chance to observe a few of these parent-teacher meetings and one of the parents said, “We are very fortunate that our teachers are taking such personal care to ensure our children don’t lose out. We as poor have hopes that education will make our children’s lives better and therefore our lives better. With teachers keeping such a close watch, our children don’t slack off and it’s one worry less for us.” Teachers are able to see that children are trying to meet expectations on top of their learning outcomes and thus would like to explore ways to continue having personalised checks on children after the children return to school as well.

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Goonj Is Working With 1000’s Of Volunteers & Partner NGOs To Provide Covid-19 Relief In 18 States

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With the extension of the lockdown the crisis of migrant labourers and daily wagers has just grown bigger due to uncertainty and fear of future. In the migrant colonies, slums and for people in the villages hunger and desperation is building up day by day. This is high time we step up our efforts to support our people who are in dire need of food and hygiene essentials to survive the pandemic, Covid-19.

After the India-wide lockdown, a lot of jobless migrant workers are stuck in cities with hardly any resources while many started retreating back to their villages. With the loss of livelihoods, a large number of them are now struggling to support their families.

Goonj activated its pan India teams and a pan India network of partner organizations and volunteers in urban and rural India. This network, built over the last two decades, helps them learn from the ground, reach material quickly and review and adapt strategy periodically. Intensifying this network has helped Goonj reach and start work across 17produced states/UT in the last three weeks.

Goonj’s focus: 

Majority of the Covid-19 relief work by non profits right now is in the metros and cities but Goonj is the only non profit that is also simultaneously focusing on the people in the villages and the ones stuck on highways or somewhere.

Goonj is targeting daily wagers, migrants and other vulnerable groups, who even traditionally are left out like the disabled, sex workers, LGBTQ community.

“COVID-19 is a crisis, yes…But, it’s also an opportunity for us to build the society anew. Not ‘for’ the people…but, ‘with’ the people. And in the process, we will build ourselves too.” – Anshu Gupta, Founder-Director, Goonj.

Direct Monetary and Material Transfer

Wherever Goonj got the permission to open their centres for packing and disbursement of relief material kits, they are creating a kit consisting of 20-30 kgs material including dry rations, masks, sanitary pads and other hygiene material and reaching them to people, as per needs and as per regulations with all safety precautions. This kit will help a family survive for 30 days.

Information till 10th April 2020:

  • Distributed 15,100 ration kits reaching thousands of people
  • Reached 17,700 families
  • Supporting 12 community kitchen across India with 16,600kgs of ration
  • 77,800 food packets provided to migrant laborers and daily wagers walking on the roads across the country.
  • Provided direct financial support to 32 organisations
  • Made 42,800 cloth face masks
  • 24,900 cloth sanitary napkins produced
  • Produced 1500 litres of organic sanitiser

In Goonj’s processing centers its trained team of women are making cloth face masks and cloth sanitary pads (MY-Pads), keeping all the precautions and with the permission and cooperation of the local authorities.

In this lock-down phase if you are facing any difficulty getting sanitary pads or you are running out of stock, here’s a detailed but very simple process of making Cloth Pads at home created by Goonj. “This is how we make Goonj MY Pads.” This is how our mothers and grandmothers turned their spare cloth into pads.

This disaster, unlike any other, is unprecedented in its scale and impact and that’s why we all must do our bit with Goonj to continue its relief work for millions of people in this still unfolding long-tailed disaster.

The need is huge.. We are there.. Need You too !!

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It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote
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