In September 2019, byFood partnered with non-profit organization Aid for Child Trust (ACT) and donated ¥50,000 to its continuous educational support project for children in the slums in Uttar Pradesh, India.
Many impoverished people in rural areas come to work in the city. They live in the slums, and they can only work low wage jobs, such as day laborers, because they are not literate and do not possess marketable skills. Children also come to the city slums with these adults in search of work. Most of them lose the opportunity to attend school because they have to take care of their brothers and sisters and work to afford household expenses.
Since 2016, ACT has been running a private school in the slums in Sector 16, Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India, where children can study Hindi, English, mathematics, etc. From February 2020, ACT partnered with the NGO Deepalaya (an organization that has provided educational support for children for over 40 years)
In October, ACT submitted an update detailing the logistics of the project and their progress from April to June 2020. Below is a short summary.
From April 2020, ACT started an educational support project for children who have never attended school, in the slums in Sector 16, Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India. The goal is that these children can enter public school and continue to attend classes.
Specifically, ACT provides education for 60 children at the private school. One year later, the children will be able to enter public school. Two years later and afterward, ACT plans to give additional classes for children who attend public school to supplement their learning so they can continue to go to school. ACT has partnered with NGO Deepalaya on this project.
1. Children don’t have the ability to enter school or give up shortly after entering
Once children wish to enter public school, they give up as their education level doesn’t reach the requirement to enter their grade. On the other hand, many children who go to school drop out because they can’t keep up with their classes. It is necessary that children are given the opportunity to enter school and take additional classes for educational support.
(The children covered by this project are ages 4-14, the school-age for compulsory education in India.)
2. There is no support for children’s parents
Very few parents let their children go to school because the parents themselves live without education and may want their children to work to support their household. They are illiterate but they have to read and write many documents in order for their children to enter school, so their children often do not get an education. But if parents have support in this area, their children may be able to go to school. That is why it is highly necessary to support and encourage parents to educate their children.
3. Sickness and lack of medical examinations
The conditions in the slums in Sector 16, Noida (the target area for this project), are very poor and unsanitary. Garbage is dumped everywhere in the town. There are many children who suffer from diseases caused by poor hygiene who cannot go to school. They need to receive medical examination services, but these exams are expensive, so few can receive them.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, ACT started online lessons with Deepalaya.
―Starting online lessons―
At first, ACT planned to start classes at their private school in April but school was closed due to the Covid-19 lockdown all over India. To maintain learning opportunities for children, they started online lessons.
In late April, ACT started online lessons for 15 children with a smartphone application called WhatsApp. Teachers sent exercises to parents through WhatsApp and parents sent back the exercises when children finished. They mainly learned mathematics, and reading and writing Hindi and English.
―Building mutual trust with students and parents―
In April, ACT was just getting started with this project with Deepalaya, so children and parents didn’t have confidence in Deepalaya at the time. In some cases, Deepalaya couldn’t get in touch with them by telephone. But by May, they gradually built mutual trust with children and parents, and Deepalaya was able to call parents and give daily lessons to children. Deepalaya's plan also helped build trust by donating daily necessities to those who lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
―Problem of inadequate internet―
The problem of online lessons are as follows:
・Some parents don’t have smartphones.
・The internet is not stable in the slums.
・The internet is not connected due to unpaid charges
・Person who has a smartphone isn’t always at home, etc.
It was very difficult to give online lessons to every child. So teachers used voice messages and telephone calls.
―Starting of face to face lessons following lockdown deregulation―
In June, the lockdown was lowered and Deepalaya was able to visit the slums in Sector 16, Noida.
They made worksheets and handed them out to children to give lessons smoothly without the use of the internet and they taught exercises every day through voice messages and telephone calls. During this visit, 3 more children were able to join this educational project.
In mid-June Deepalaya also gave stationery such as notebooks and pencils, in addition to food and personal hygiene products for the people in the slums who lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Though 7 NGOs had been active until last year in the slums, all stopped activity except Deepalaya due to the pandemic. This education project carried out by Deepalaya is now the only one. Teachers and staff are working despite the risk of infection in order to give educational opportunities to children in the slums.