As the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on education becomes severe day by day, it is the deprived who are put to the maximum disadvantage. Since schools are shut, classrooms have moved online. However, only those children can attend classes whose families have the luxury of possessing multiple mobile phones.
The situation has left underprivileged children in a state of misery. However, a group of students from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has taken the initiative to help a few such children. For the last 11 days, around 15 students of JNU have been regularly visiting Madhukar Basti, a slum in Munirka locality, and teaching over 30 children there. The unit of Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) from the JNU is spearheading this initiative, named Basti Ki Pathshala.
"We initiated the Basti Ki Pathshala programme to enable uninterrupted learning and education to the schoolchildren of Madhukar Basti. Our volunteers go every evening and teach more than 30 children from the slum whose learning had stopped as they could not afford mobile phones to continue with their studies," said Shivam Chaurasia, president, ABVP-JNU.
Chaurasia said that the student volunteers teach core subjects like Mathematics, Science, English, and others. "We intend to keep the momentum of education even during the lockdown period for these deprived children," he added. The volunteers said that they had kept a whiteboard in an open space in the slum where they gathered each evening to attend the class held between 5 to 6 pm. Besides, they also provided study materials to these children.
"The children seem elated while attending our classes with new books, notebooks, pencils in their hands. They told us that they have been missing it badly as it enables them to meet their friends and study together. We felt encouraged after their response," said Meenakshi Choudhary, a volunteer who teaches English to the slum children. Choudhary is a student of languages and is pursuing her PhD in Persian.
Praneet Duholiya, the convenor of the Basti Ki Pathshala programme, said that the volunteers are happy on playing an essential role in these children's lives. "The children of Madhukar Basti are always happy to see us at their place, and we are also happy in playing an important role in their lives during their hardships. Our teaching programme has been made possible by the active participation of volunteers and a team of ABVP-JNU. We will continue to pursue such activities in the future also because it gives so much fulfillment," he added.
Chaurasia said that the slum, Madhukar Basti, was adopted by the ABVP three years ago to roll out social activities. "For the last three years, ABVP-JNU has been regularly visiting the locality to celebrate festivals, occasions, distribution of study materials and clothes to the needy children and their families. Basti Ki Pathshala is a continuation of our activities here," he said.