THE CHALLENGES OF PROVIDING ONLINE SCHOOLING TO STUDENTS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PYRAMID
Parikrma Humanity Foundation (INDIA)
About this paper:
Conference name: 13th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 9-10 November, 2020
Location: Online Conference
Abstract:In a world already experiencing a growing gap between the haves and the have-nots, the Covid pandemic and related lockdown has only served to hasten the growth of that gap. Education has been one area where children from under-served communities have largely been left behind their peers, who have easily moved onto online learning.
As we write this, millions of students attending Government run schools in India have been out of school for more than three months; it is unlikely that these schools will open before September, which would mean that the children have not had any education for 5+ months. Given the impoverished backgrounds that these children come from, there is little academic or mental stimulation available at home, making the goal of catching up with their more affluent peers an increasingly distant one.
Parikrma Humanity Foundation, a non-profit running 4 free schools for children from the poorest slums of Bangalore city in India since 2003, has been determined not to let its students suffer a similar fate as the students attending Government schools. To this end, ReachV, Parikrma’s virtual school was started on the 22nd May, in an attempt to ensure continued education for all of Parikrma’s students.
The challenges of running an online school for children from such under-resourced families seemed initially insurmountable, ranging from a lack of internet connectivity and `smart’ devices to technologically challenged teachers and skeptical parents. However, the need to quickly bring the children back to the discipline of school was clear – some of them had already been pushed into jobs by their parents and the rest were spending most of their time unsupervised in the harsh environments of the slums in which they live. Thus, once the decision to start a virtual school had been taken, the Parikrma team has tackled each of the problems as they arose, using a range of innovative ideas to suit the needs of the students. ReachV is now a reality with attendance running at 90%+.
This paper will talk about how the ReachV school was set up and the solutions found to each of the problems typically faced by those running schools for children from the most under-served communities. In addition, it will provide some metrics of success, based on both learning outcomes as well as satisfaction with the learning process among all the key stakeholder groups, namely, students, teachers and parents. We hope that the learnings of the Parikrma team will be of use to educators working with similar populations across the world.
Keywords: ReachV, Parikrma, online education, under-served children.