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08 Sep 2020

Renuka and Ritu - Celebrating International Literacy Day

 

Today is an exciting day for sisters Renuka and Ritu*. It's been more than five months since they were able to wear their pristine blue school uniforms and see their friends. But today, their teacher Dashrath is visiting for International Literacy Day.

They woke up in the early hours of the morning to get prepared, collecting their colouring pencils and notebooks along with one new habit: putting on their masks. Since the Covid-19 lockdown began at the end of March 2020, all of Seva Mandir's Shiksha Kendras have been suspended, following government guidelines. Since then, Seva Mandir has been reaching children remotely, through phone calls, WhatsApp messages and leaving worksheets for children with their parents.

For children such as Renuka and Ritu, their learning has been greatly affected by the pandemic, and they have not been able to socialise and spend time with their friends for more than five months. So the news that their teacher will be visiting them today fills them with joy. The two girls rushed to the edge of their family's farm land to wait for the teacher. As Dashrath approached the girl's home accompanied by Niranjan from Seva Mandir, they began to jump in joy.

Together, they wrote and recited poems, drew pictures and read stories. The sisters were extremely happy to once again interact with their teacher and learn new words. Now, they are waiting in anticipation to return to school.
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the face of education in rural India. Previous challenges of reaching young children, especially girls, have been accentuated by the lockdown. New challenges have also appeared, such as the lack of technology in rural areas reducing opportunities for digital learning. Whilst some families do have smartphones, many do not, meaning that home visits are necessary. The education team at Seva Mandir has prepared learning materials specifically for home learning for the children, and are working with parents and carers to ensure that they complete their tasks.

Without these efforts, many children would again drop out of education and return to working on their family's farms and in their households. Even in the midst of this pandemic, providing a quality education to children is a priority of Seva Mandir.

*Names changed

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