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Odisha NGOs start remedial classes for rural children, ask state govt to adopt module

By Anjan Pradhan*

With Covid-19 pandemic showing no signs of abating, and the glaring digital divide posing a massive challenge in Odisha for the children seeking to attend the government’s online classes, a group of civil society organizations (CSOs) have taken the initiative of starting remedial classes for the state’srural children with their members engaging local youth volunteers for this.
The initiative is being operationalized and begun benefiting over 3,000 students in far flung areas of 15 districts -- Malkangiri, Koraput, Nabarangapur, Rayagada, Kalahandi, Nuapada, Balangir, Boudh, Kandhamal, Gajapati, Nayagarh, Mayurbhanj, Sundergarh, Sambalpur and Jharsuguda districts. The initiative began on August 10 by volunteers of the non-profit Atmashakti Trust, Odisha Shramajeebee Mancha and Mahila Shramajeebee Mancha, Odisha, in an effort to facelift education in the state’s rural areas.
Till now, over 100 CSO members and local youth volunteers have conducted more than 175 remedial classes in these districts, while strictly following the government’s Covid-19 norms.
The initiative was the result of a study on learning assessment of school children which was carried out by these organization. In this study, learning levels of over 3,000 school students of class-III, class-V and class-VIII were assessed in these districts.
The study report revealed abysmal condition of learning levels among school children. It recommended remedial classes to help the struggling learners shore up their basic skills and could help them catch up with their peers. The lockdown, it said, could be an opportunity where they can catch up to their peers by learning through remedial classes.
Binay Bhoi, a Plus II student, is teaching a group of students from Class I to V at the village club room in the morning. He has been teaching students since August 10 after being inspired by the local Mahila Sangram Samiti (MSS), which has been encouraging educated rural youths to take remedial classes in these tough times.
“Most of the parents are happy with our remedial classes as children are back to the teaching learning environment and gradually catching up the courses from where they had left after a long gap of four months", said Binay.
Over the week, these volunteers are taking up remedial classes for two hours each day to a group of children, each consisting 5 to 6 learners, where physical distancing, use of hand wash and sanitisers and other precautionary measures are taken. Classes are conducted in a joyful environment.
“While Sikkim has formally adopted home schooling, where teachers will visit students’ houses with all resources to teach them, we are experimenting with a similar kind of our teaching-learning model. We urge the Odisha government follow our remedial classes module and Sikkim model to help these children who are left with little or no support to return to their learning”, said Ruchi Kashyap, executive trustee, Atmashakti Trust.
In a state where online education poses massive challenges in rural Odisha, where only 22 lakhs out of a total 62 lakhs and children are also seen scrambling to get atop the roof or boundary walls nearby to get hold of that elusive mobile connectivity, doorstep remedial classes are helping thousands of children in these remotest parts of Odisha to ensure that these children are kept up with their education. It will also promote equal educational opportunities, Kashyap added.
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*Convener, Odisha Shramajeebee Mancha

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