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Impact of Covid-19 in Educating the Marginalised

COVID-19 devastated the world. We know that almost all the countries ordered school closures affecting more than 168 million school children. Education during pandemic was a huge challenge.

 

“One in seven children have missed more than a tri-quarter of in-person classes, according to UNICEF.”

According to UNESCO, “One in Five learners cannot attend school, one in four Cannot attend Higher Education classes”.

 

About Tamil Nadu:

 

During the pandemic, the state of Tamil Nadu took preventive measures to control the spread of the virus. It was a new normal situation and for the first time, all the students continued their studies from their homes attending online classes, house visits by teachers, cluster level education, etc. 

 

Tamil Nadu’s education system is divided into 5 segments:

 

pre-primary, primary, upper-primary, secondary, and higher secondary education. 

 

In the academic year 2020-21, there were a total of 58,904 schools in the state. 35,579 were government schools8,326 were aided schools, and 12,402 private unaided recognised schools (affiliated to different boards) and 587 schools fell under the category of other schools. The total number of students enrolled in the schools of Tamil Nadu is around 1,29,44,501

 

There was a competition between the government schools and private schools for more than 2-3 decades. The government and the matriculation schools took several initiatives to attract children to their institutions. More schools were established every year for the benefit of students. Government schools were built each year more than private schools. However, it is erroneous to conclude that students and parents preferred government schools. The private school students outnumbered government school students by over 10% in the academic year 2019-2020.

 

Even though the creation of government schools has increased, parents preferred to enrol their children in private schools by believing that private school children become better-versed in English communication skills, discipline, curriculum, and results. Parents believe that English medium schools open lucrative doors for employment opportunities and give them a higher social standing in the society. 

 

In most of the government schools, the medium of instruction is Tamil and they do not have the same degree of appeal as private schools. Nevertheless, the Tamil Nadu government is taking necessary steps to add more English-medium government-run schools every year to close the gap between parents’ perceptions and infrastructural reality of the government schools.

 

The Technology role during and before Covid-19

 

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, the use of technology in schools was limited. Many schools prohibited students from bringing gadgets and laptops to schools. Instead of digital devices and technology, the schools had a preference for books, guides but rarely digital learning. 

 

But after the pandemic, the entire system was flipped upside down. The absence of classroom lessons created an education loss for the government school children. 

 

Seeing the education loss, the Tamil Nadu School Education Department launched an e-portal to help students learn from the comfort of their homes during the lockdown. The government’s Kalvi TV aired the video lessons. For the benefit of students, the government took steps to upload the lessons prepared by the State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) in students’ laptops. Kalvi Tholaikatchi, the government’s YouTube channel, streamed various programmes for the benefit of teachers and students. 

 

The scenario of Private school children was very different. The Private schools took initiatives to resume their classes on Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and many other platforms. WhatsApp groups were used to share education materials and updates from respective schools. Invite links were shared on WhatsApp groups and other platforms ahead of the sessions. 

 

Challenges of Digital Device and Education

 

While online learning makes learning easier through advanced technology, it is not without its downsides. The lack of social interactions makes it difficult for students to comprehend the lessons. Students who are used to the traditional blackboard method of learning, find it difficult to adapt to new forms of learning. Lack of access to devices and connectivity issues also affects online education.

 

A study showed that private school students had more access to gadgets and computers than government school students. Government school students, however, were more likely to have access to television where they watch the government-run educational programmes. The gap between private school students and their counterparts grew wider when it comes to smartphones.

 

Education Loss and Need of Additional staff

 

Though the state government of Tamil Nadu had initiated to provide education during pandemic through television and Illam Thedi Kavi concept but the gap and the education loss in the government school children was irreplaceable. The need for additional and support staff is increased especially for government school children to bridge the education loss.

 

Many children have lost interest in education and it led to drop outs. The pandemic has highlighted the need for the major players in the education industry to be flexible and agile. It has reversed trends and has demonstrated how an economic crisis can cause people to rethink their beliefs and preferences. Smile Foundation through its flagship programme, Mission Education (ME) is helping children go back to school and resume their studies with full flair after the end of the long pandemic.

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Vocational Training to bridge the gap between Education and Jobs

Manisha is a young girl who graduated with good grades in her University and is struggling to be employed. While Kanika with the same grades got a good job. The point of difference- Kanika has received vocational education while Manish has not.

 

Let’s start with the unpleasant truths- India’s employability rate has significantly decreased during the last few years. The day when India was seen as having a talent surplus is long gone, and the youth today lack appropriate skilling. Naturally, this leads to what is known as the “industry-institute divide,”.

 

As reports claim that 95% of Indian technical graduates are unemployed. Currently, little to no opportunity for skill education is given to approximately 80% of new workers entering the workforce. Only 2% of the workforce in our country receives formal vocational training.

 

The top institutions and educational organisations should pay attention to how talent acquisition is evolving. The emphasis has turned to experiential learning as large organisations realise how crucial it is to hire the best personnel. The capacity to read the market’s pulse and use that understanding is essential. 

 

The growing skill gap is concerning since many young people today lack the required abilities. One needs to be able to think quickly in order to deal with the market’s uncertainty. A person who is prepared can handle the market’s variations and yet have the passion to learn and make a significant contribution to the market’s expansion.

 

Unfortunately, it is challenging to close this gap due to the slow educational system and students’ aimless behaviour. The goal in this situation is to strengthen students’ learning experiences by incorporating practical knowledge into the educational framework. For India, skilling can raise living standards and make the country a global leader in skills hub.

 

What is Vocational Education?

 

Vocational education is training that equips individuals to operate as technicians or as tradespeople in a skilled craft or trade. Vocational education and training may also be thought of as the sort of education provided to a person to prepare them for employment.

 

The importance of a Vocational Education

 

Because it equips a student with employable skills in a reasonably short period of time, vocational education is crucial. Some short-term vocational programmes only last a few months, but during that time a student not only learns from their courses but also works on real jobs with a qualified mentor. As a result, they can build helpful professional relationships and get the possibility to find a job far faster than a typical university student. Due to the high value of trade skills and the likelihood that people will always want a tradesperson’s competence, vocational education is also crucial.

 

Training Centres

 

The portfolio can only be augmented through skill-based training and education relevant to the sector. Such training is necessary for a wide range of businesses, including retail, clothing, tourism, cosmetology, traditional crafts, cottage industry, and many more. Candidates seeking work may find it helpful to enrol in a hands-on skill training programme or vocational training facility.

 

These training facilities help students develop their soft skills, such as improving their speaking and business language, creating personalised emails for clients, and creating captivating PowerPoint presentations. Finally, candidates looking for employment may find value in the accreditations and qualifications they have acquired throughout the years.

 

Vocational Education and Skill Development in India

 

Although India has made progress in developing a competent workforce, there are still several significant obstacles that the nation must overcome in order to reach its objectives. Here is a list of a few of these difficulties:

 

  1. Lack of competent and experienced teachers– The provision of trainers has consistently shown to be a barrier to reforming vocational education. For many years, the availability of talented instructors has been hindered by faculty shortages and the educational system’s failure to recruit and keep them. In order to preserve the long-term viability of the higher education system, the number of instructors in the system must be increased at a faster rate than student enrollment growth.
  2. Weak involvement from the private sector and the business sector– Without the help of business, practical training has become exceedingly difficult. In addition, the facilities for practical training in schools are far from sufficient for completing practical requirements. There is currently no law requiring businesses to participate in pre-job vocational education.
  3. The majority of Vocational Education Training Institutes are characterised by structurally stiff and outdated centralised curricula that are not in sync with the current market realities. These institutes also tend to offer courses that are insufficient and out of date.
  4. Training not up to industry standards in terms of quality– There is a mismatch between the skills taught and those that the industry demands. Even after getting formal vocational training, unemployment results from low curriculum relevance to industry requirements.
  5. Along with the aforementioned difficulties, one of the biggest risks is the absence of a monitoring system that can routinely evaluate the effectiveness of ITIs and ITCs as well as the calibre of training provided. Additionally, there appears to be a need for substantial public relations and education programmes to combat the poor reputation of domestic vocational education.

 

Efforts are made to bridge all the existing gaps between education and job readiness of the students. Vocational Education with the potential of skilling the youth exponentially making them market ready to earn respectable livelihood and have a better quality of life is the dream.

 

Donate for Livelihood Skills Development Program

 

Smile Foundation is actively involved in imparting vocational education to the underprivileged. Smile Foundation has been educating impoverished youngsters from slums all across India and equipping them to compete successfully in the employment market.

 

Additionally, we offer a programme for vocational education that has been especially created to educate and empower Indian rural women. For more information on how to give to education and job-related skill training please visit here.

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Young Donors on the rise in Online Donation in India

Donation called as ‘dāna’ (read as Da-Nuh) in Sanskrit refers to the act of giving as charity. It is a practice that is existent in Indian society since ancient times and has been considered important in living a virtuous life. Not just limited to kings or wealthy people, donation as per one’s own capacity is emphasized in India as a righteous act. The primary lesson behind this practice being ‘giving back to the society and sharing your abundance with those in need’. Online Donation in India is spearheaded by its young lot.

 

Today India is in its most dynamic phase with the largest share of the youth population in the world. Youth population of a country is its biggest asset as they collectively determine the future course of a nation. The young population undoubtedly contributes and leads the economic development of the nation. But when this young population takes interest and actively participates in social welfare, the society is truly reformed. Given the current trend of involvement of India’s young population in philanthropic activities, our nation is surely marching on the path of glory.

 

Online Donation in India

 

India is among the countries that has embraced digitalization with open arms and it has hugely transformed the way we do things today as compared to earlier. Philanthropy, charity or engaging in a social cause is no exception to this change. With today’s youth hooked on to their digital devices and social media platform, engagement in social causes, be it through donation or volunteering is significantly affected by the online media.

 

According to a research paper on ‘Understanding Online Donor Behaviour’, using online platforms to generate donations from local, national and international public is becoming a popular yet inexpensive way for many human service NGOs to raise necessary funds. The impact can be outlined by the following points:

 

  • Online platform increases the outreach of the non-profit or charitable organizations thereby providing them a larger donor base.
  • Online donation is quick, direct and easy, thereby wasting less time of donors and NGOs in the process of donating and receiving money.
  • Donors find it convenient to choose the social cause they want to support by using vetted information on online platforms.

 

While online platform has a great potential to mobilize donations for various social causes and charity with regard to its outreach, the number of conversions or people who actually donate online are determined by numerous other factors like donors trust and perception of reputation and credibility of the platform, socio-psychological factors, influence from social networks etc.

 

Social sector funding: Need and Status

 

Amidst an environment of economic and political instability on a global front, India is one of the countries which has not only stood strong but is riding aggressively on the back of economic growth. Today India is the fifth largest economy in the world. However, our country is a land of paradoxes and while on one hand the GDP has grown considerably, on the other hand the gap between the rich and poor also has widened.

 

Poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, social and economic inequality and gender disparity still remain major issues staring us in the face. Many non-profit and charitable organizations, commonly referred to as NGOs, are tirelessly working towards their chosen cause and supporting the government in its attempts to bring about inclusiveness in society. But in order for these NGOs to sustain and continue their operations in serving the social causes, donations play a crucial role.

 

The India Philanthropy Report 2022 reveals that the social sector expenditure in India has shown a significant growth in the past five years. It has grown from approximately INR 10Lakh crore to INR 17.5 lakh Crore in the above period registering an increase of 12% annually, a lion’s share of this expenditure coming from government spending. However, as per estimates by NITI Aayog, India still needs to step up its social sector funding to 13%of GDP from the current average of 7%of GDP to be able to meet its United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by year 2030. 

 

But considering the increasing fiscal deficit and debt burdens, the government has its limitations in social sector funding. Hence the onus of pooling in funds to plug the deficit shifts to private sector. The donors in this sector include corporates (CSR spending), family philanthropists (Ultra High Net-worth individuals and High net-worth Individuals) and retail (community) giving. The India Philanthropy Report 2022 estimates total private spending to grow at approx.12% annually and predicts this growth to rise if the true potential of relevant groups in each segment is suitably harnessed.

 

Young Donors on the Rise

 

As per a report published in the Times of India, youngsters in India spend more time online in searching worthy causes than the older generation. Though the actual donations made by younger population in terms of value still lag behind that by their older generation; the fact that the youngsters are more inclined towards social causes and take an active interest in it presents a hopeful situation for the society.

 

This report also reveals that the age group of the population bracket, who donate maximum money to charity, has come down compared to what it was a decade ago and this trend is expected to continue. According to the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), the youth in India are not only desirous of contributing towards social causes but are also result oriented which is reflected by a rising trend of “planned-giving” in young India. The youngsters today are pledging their support for causes beyond religion like donation for poor children or supporting education and skill development through funds and voluntary services.

 

How to Motivate People to Donate

 

Unlike the older generation who are more of cause givers and committed givers, already aware of which cause they want to support; the younger generation is still looking for the social causes which appeal to them. They also believe in doing a thorough research to find the best way to donate money in India, so that their money is put to proper use.

 

Donating to NGOs who work for the cause which appeals to you is a smart way to partner in the process of social change. However, it is pertinent to ensure the credibility and authenticity of the NGO you choose to donate to. Hence, it also becomes the shared responsibility of the NGOs to reach out to their potential donors by putting out transparent information about their activities in public space. This would help the donors make an informed choice and might also translate to long-term commitment to the cause and association between the donor and the NGO.

 

Further, as to how to encourage people to donate, credible NGOs employ methods like:

 

  • Presenting impact through beneficiary testimonials
  • Connecting to donors with an emotional appeal
  • Emphasizing on the impact which individual generosity can create
  • Establishing the fact that a small act of kindness can contribute to a big transformation
  • Earning the trust of the donors by updating them about utilization of funds

 

Finally, it is with the healthy association of government and civil society that positive social change can be possible and impactful in India. Know more about Smile Foundation and its relentless efforts towards changing the lived experience of many under-privileged children, women and the youth.

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Indian Youth and the Dream of An Advanced India

No nation can imagine themselves without the vitality of its youth.

 

Young kids are crucial because they are the foundation of our future. They are our partners today, but they’ll become our leaders tomorrow. Young people are excited and energised. They are able to pick up new skills and adjust to dynamic surroundings. 

 

Without a nation’s youth, it cannot survive. No matter what industry we wish to advance in—be it technology or sports—youth is an irreplaceable, fixed asset. We must assist them in carrying out their jobs effectively. All of the kids need to be made aware of their potential and their part in the development of the country.

 

Skill Development Programme For Indian Youth

 

The major goal of the Skill India initiative is to give young people appropriate training in skills. Additionally, it aspires to increase the total scope and space for neglected sectors as well as possibilities for talent development in the nation.

 

The Role of Indian Youth in National Development

 

The future of politics, the economy, technology, and medical science lies in the hands of the youth. The issues the globe is currently experiencing include famine, joblessness, climate change, and other forms of pollution. The future generation has the solution to all of these issues.

 

In any nation, the youth represent the most vital and energetic element of the population. Statistics indicate that developing nations with sizable youth populations might see significant development in all areas of their economies if they invest in young people’s rights, education, and health. The youthful brains of today will become the leaders, inventors, builders, and innovators of tomorrow.

 

Numerous job possibilities are possible due to globalisation and India’s booming economy, particularly in the retail and service industries. Previously thought to be less significant, interpersonal behaviour, communication, presentation, client management, company growth, computer competence, and negotiating abilities are now required for candidacy. Today’s entry-level employment requirements have grown to include handling clients skillfully on the phone or via email, working well in teams, giving presentations, and dealing with customers gracefully in person.

 

In the entire world, India’s youth have the largest population. This gives India an edge over other countries. The developed wealthy countries of the world have an increasing senior citizen population. Additionally, after 75 years of independence Indians are getting more and more educated, this is giving lots of employment opportunities to India youngsters. India is also advancing in many areas of science and business. 

 

Advancement of India- No More A Dream

 

Indian youth hold the key for the advancement of India and also for the entire world to an extent. Youth must be encouraged and given access to excellent health, training, and education if they are to be effective leaders, inventors, and innovators who can change the world. When the Youth are employed and generating money rather than being dependent on anyone, the economy of the nation will grow.

 

Youth has the ability to fix the majority of the issues that our country is now experiencing. The only thing today’s youth require is the opportunity to succeed. Through several demonstrations against violence against women and corruption, we have seen how the youth can bring people from all ethnic groups together. Youth decides which path a nation undertakes at the turn of every decade.

 

Smile Foundation

 

Smile Foundation strives to give underprivileged youth of India access to career counselling and skill training programmes to help them choose the best career path for themselves and make a great India in the future. You can also donate to the e-learning education programme, STeP initiative of the Smile Foundation. 

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7 self-made women entrepreneurs of India

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”– Helen Keller

 

Until a few decades ago, the mention of an average Indian woman would elicit a picture in our minds of a woman inside a house, cooking and serving her family members, looking after the kids or caring for the elderly and sick members at home. Of course there were working women who stepped out of their homes but mostly engaged in conventional professions like teaching, banking, hospitality industry etc. Now, with an increasing count of women entrepreneurs in India, women are taking up all professional spaces and leading them with empathy and confidence.

 

But the idea of women entrepreneurs was still dealt with resistance and hostility in India almost until the 1990s. Deep rooted patriarchy, social prejudices, traditional and cultural norms were few of the obstacles blocking the way of any Indian woman taking the entrepreneurial path.

 

However, despite all odds, there are women who withstood every hindrance and dared to chase their dreams. With their sheer perseverance, courage and talent these women have proved their mettle as successful entrepreneurs.

 

We have curated a list of 7 such self-made successful women entrepreneurs in India who have shattered the glass ceiling and made their distinct mark in different industries, some of which were until now considered male bastion:

 

7 such self-made successful women entrepreneurs in India

 

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw

 

She is the Founder and chairperson of Biocon India, the first Indian company to produce and export enzymes to the U.S and Europe. Despite studying fermentation science and earning a degree as a brewmaster from Melbourne University, Shaw faced a lot of criticism in India for aspiring to launch her career in brewing, which was the stronghold of men.

 

But an undeterred Shaw identified the right opportunity, took a leap of faith and started Biocon India from the garage of her house, with a seed capital of just INR 10,000/-. From manufacturing industrial enzymes, she eventually led Biocon to evolve into a completely integrated biopharmaceutical company. At 69 years, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw is a visionary working to ensure equity in healthcare through affordable innovations and has been adorned with numerous national and international honours for her commendable contributions in this sector.

 

Falguni Nayar

 

Founder and CEO of Nykaa, a beauty and wellness e-commerce platform and currently the most popular businesswoman in India, Falguni Nayar is India’s richest self made woman entrepreneur. She quit her job in investment banking to tread on the path of her entrepreneurial journey with Nykaa in 2012, just months before turning 50 years.

 

In her own words, the journey of Nykaa has many firsts and is empowering for many, be it women or young entrepreneurs without a backing, or those from non-tech background trying to use technology. With a net worth of $3.4 B and recipient of many prestigious awards like EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2021, Falguni Nayar is an inspiration for many. Her message to women is “Never shy away from being the primary actor (Nykaa) of your life.”

 

Aditi Gupta

 

An alumnus of National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, Aditi Gupta was concerned and intrigued about the stigma around menstruation from her personal experience in adolescence. She found a severe lack of awareness about menstrual health and hygiene in India, even among educated people. This motivated Aditi to work towards breaking the myths about menstruation and de-stigmatizing it.

 

Aditi along with her husband started a website called Menstrupedia in 2012 which provides user-friendly information about menstruation, hygiene and puberty through comic books and relatable media. Menstrupedia’s resources have benefitted around 13 million girls and women across the world. Aditi was listed in Forbes India Under 30 list in 2014, was named as one of BBC’s 100 most influential women in 2015 and received Business Today Most Powerful Women Impact awards for bringing a change in society through her innovative work in menstrual education.

 

Shaikh Razia

 

Chattisgarh based microbiologist Shaikh Razia, has transformed the way people look at Mahua flowers. Mahua (Madhuca Longifolia) usually associated with the making of alcohol, consumed by tribal people also has great nutritious value. After discovering the health benefits of mahua flower, Razia started Bastar foods, a business venture which engaged local tribal women to produce ladoos and other healthy snacks from Mahua flowers. She also established proper market linkages to sell the products. Currently Bastar Foods has 8 manufacturing units and provides gainful employment to around 350 tribal women.  

 

Chayaa Nanjappa

 

Chayaa Nanjappa is one of those successful women entrepreneurs in India whose story is both inspiring and heartwarming. She is the founder and managing partner of Nectar Fresh, a social enterprise engaged in sourcing and processing natural honey. Nanjappa is a first generation woman entrepreneur, under whose aegis, Nectar Fresh has been recognized as the first ‘Women Owned’ enterprise in India by We Connect International- a global network for women entrepreneurs.

 

Today Nectar Fresh has made its way to the shelves of huge retail chains like Walmart and Spar Hyper Market and is demanded by the best in hospitality industry like Hyatt, Radison, ITC, Marriot, etc. Chayya Nanjappa’s business model not only makes her brand a corporate success but also empowers rural farmers and local tribes by providing them with a sustainable livelihood.

 

Sairee Chahal

 

Sairee Chahal is nothing short of a youth icon. She is a dynamic entrepreneur dedicated to the purpose of bringing gender parity in the workplace and believes in the power of technology to achieve this goal. Chahal is the founder and CEO of SHEROES-an online ecosystem exclusively for all women from college fresher to stay-at-home moms to find support with regard to employment and entrepreneurial opportunities or content and community support and interactive platforms. Being a woman herself who has dabbled through multiple roles of being a corporate professional and serial entrepreneur, she understands the nuances of business and the challenges faced by women in balancing various roles in life. Hence each of her ventures revolves around the idea of providing solution-oriented change for women at work.

 

Pabiben Rabari 

 

Belonging to the Rabari or Rewari community, an indigenous nomadic tribe of cattle herders, Pabiben is the founder of one of India’s first Women Artisan Enterprises, Pabiben.com. Through hard work and perseverance, she has transitioned from a daily wage worker to an artisan and now a successful businesswoman who has put the traditional Rabari art of intricate embroidery work on the world stage.

 

With her passion and creativity, she invented a new art form called ‘Hari jari’ which has earned her a global clientele. Working towards empowering rural artisans by mentoring and supporting them to use their traditional crafts in creating sustainable livelihoods, Pabiben is not just an entrepreneur but an agent of positive social change.

 

Donate for Women Empowerment

 

“Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.” This quote by Maya Angelou aptly sums up the fact that one empowered woman creates many more empowered women. Inspired by the successful business women in India, there are many other women with dreams and aspirations but held back by lack of resources. Your contribution can propel their growth. Donate for women empowerment and help create many more success stories that India can be proud of. 

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Women Empowerment- Making India a Country for Women

As women are now actively working as leaders and outperforming others in many areas of life, women’s empowerment in India is no more just a dream. The woman governors and the governments led by these extraordinary people are taking up the burden and pressing on in the struggle alone wherever necessary.

 

In India, a number of factors, including the geographical context (urban/rural), social position (caste and class), educational level, and age factor, all play a significant role in determining how empowered women are. There are initiatives to empower women at the state, local (panchayat), and federal levels. However, women face discrimination in the majority of industries, including politics, economic involvement, health and medical care, and education. This shows that there are significant gaps between strategic developments and actual implementation on the ground. 

 

The creation and execution of a clear policy framework, the promotion of civic consciousness, and education about women’s empowerment can help to achieve the goals of ending the struggle of women in Indian society. It’s also important to guarantee that they are accepted as legitimate equal co-workers. 

 

Women Empowerment in India: A Background

 

The phrase “women empowerment” refers to leadership, or the power invested in women who share equivalent rights. The phrase describes the release of women from socioeconomic dependence. Most of the women in the nation—roughly 50% of the total population—remain economically reliant on others. Most financially independent women exercise their free will, and live the lives they want. 

 

But there is a sizable segment of women in our country that need upbeat encouragement. Many women are still not allowed to receive a basic education in the majority of Indian rural and semi-urban areas, despite having acquired the necessary knowledge.

 

The wonderful thing about women is that they excel in every area. However, in various parts of the world, they have been ignored. In turn, women endure inequality, financial dependency, oppression, and many societal ills.

 

The rights that males have are not similarly accorded to women in many places. Women are still expected to cook, clean, and receive lower pay. Women are held to high cultural and familial standards. Some Indian women let their husbands or parents make decisions for them. 

 

Gender Inequality and the Reasons behind it

 

The belief that women are weaker is a strong reason to forbid women from working or studying far from their homes. In addition, some Indian women were compelled by their parents to be married at an early age. In today’s civilizations, women’s empowerment is absolutely necessary. It is crucial for both societies and the self-esteem of women.

 

Giving women the right is empowering them. Women can engage equally in politics, the economy, society, and education. As with males, women can pursue higher education. They can pursue a high degree of education, complete their coursework, pick any subject to study, and any skill to master. 

 

By assuring them they can accomplish anything they set their minds to, women are encouraged to feel strong. Women have the option to make decisions and can work outside the house. Women don’t rely on males for anything. By working to the best of their skills, they can provide for their families. 

 

Today, women can hold high-level positions just like males. Some women are elevated to high-level roles such as presidents, leaders, community heads, and others. Additionally, a large number of women are now active in politics, academia, and the economy.

 

Smile Foundation & Women Empowerment

 

The Smile Foundation launched a dynamic and transformative initiative, Swabhiman, translating into “self-respect” in hindi, in 2005 to address women-specific issues using a straightforward yet efficient strategy. Through creative communal activities, the programme especially aims to realise both individual and collective self-esteem and inner strength for marginalised and socially excluded women and adolescent girls.

 

Under Swabhiman, the initiative for women’s empowerment, a customised approach known as the “4 S Model” was devised. The abbreviation “4 S Model” stands for four cutting-edge strategies: Supporting Education, Sustaining the Change in Communities, and Seeking Healthcare as a Behaviour.

 

You can also contribute to the education of girls for women empowerment.

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Education Survey 2022: Smile Foundation, Part 5

When learner suffers a failure, we must get them to success as quickly as possible to restore their confidence in their capabilities.”- Rick Stiggins

 

With this thought in our mind, after the COVID-19, when school opened, we at Mission Education thought to conduct an Education Survey 2022  to understand what teachers, students and parents have in mind about school readiness, about mode of learning, what challenges they have faced and how they overcame them.

 

Education Survey 2022

 

Our team on ground talked with teachers, educators and parents and gathered the data. When we processed the data we found out some interesting facts under Education Survey 2022–   

 

  1. According to the teachers, less than 50% of children have been able to cope with the learning over the last 2 years and are only now able to catch up on their age-appropriate learning. 
  2. 58% of the teachers were of the opinion that children have missed social skills and get distracted easily. Their attention span has decreased considerably. 
  3. 90% of the teachers are willing to learn new practices to help children cope with learning gaps. 
  4. Parents have started getting more involved in their children’s education with 47% of the view that there is an increased interaction between them and teachers in schools as well as over calls.
  5. 38% parents started interacting with teachers by visiting schools.
  6. There is a 27% increase of attendance in PTMs.
  7. 50% of the parents interviewed felt the absence of digital learning resources like devices, networks, and data packs made the learning experience inadequate for the children during the pandemic.
  8. 31% of parents’ most preferred modes of learning during the pandemic were direct classes in offline mode or cluster classes.
  9. 20% felt worksheets and visits by the teachers were very convenient and useful.
  10. 67% of the parents felt that the children’s learning was not effective during the school closure due to the pandemic.
  11. 69% of parents believe children need more support in Math and English to cope with age appropriate learning levels.
  12. There is a lot of change in the parent’s keenness among children post pandemic, 58% of parents increased their interactions with children trying to understand what they have learnt in schools.
  13.  26% of parents also started spending some quality time with children.

 

Filling in the Gaps In Education

 

With these findings of Education Survey 2022, we analysed deeply the further course of action and to streamline the education of students left behind due to COVID-19 and to equip teacher with skills to deal with students in a better manner through providing teacher capacity building workshops, promoting child centric activities i.e. activity based learning, experiential learning, promoting social emotional development for student wellbeing etc & engagement of parents for ownership in child’s learning process. 

 

The COVID-19 brought many challenges but it also brought opportunities to equip our teachers and students with next generation skills and resources. We need to work to provide better education for our next generation as said by Confucius, ”Education breeds confidence, Confidence breeds hope, Hope breeds peace.”

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How activity-based learning can help in knowledge retention?

As adults when we think back about our school days, we tend to vividly remember a few teachers over others. These are most often the teachers whose classes were interesting. A little thought about what made their classes special would point towards their teaching method which invariably was ‘student centric’. A story-telling session, a word building exercise, a fun math game, a general knowledge quiz, a role-play; it might have been any of these that made their classes stand out. We enjoyed these classes because we were actively involved in those classes. This is precisely what activity-based learning (ABL) is all about.

 

Activity-based Learning: Concept and Methods

 

In simple terms, activity-based learning refers to a teaching methodology where the subject matter is delivered through various activities that make learning more interesting and engaging. In this type of learning, student is the center of the process and teacher acts only as a facilitator, introducing and guiding them through the activities. Students learn independently and at their own pace.

 

Unlike conventional teaching where teacher is the one who lectures and students are passive recipients, activity-based learning encourages children for the following:

 

  • Engage: Children are involved in doing the activities designed and thus engage in their own learning process

 

  • Experiment: There is no standard answer to be replicated, hence children get the scope to experiment and arrive at their own solutions to a given problem

 

  • Explore: Learning through activities creates curiosity in children to investigate and find more information about a given problem/situation

 

  • Express: When children are thoroughly involved in the learning process it enables them to express their findings/ learning more confidently

 

Activity-based learning can be imparted in a number of ways. Activities can be designed based on the composition of the class and the subject to be taught. The most common way of activity-based teaching is through group work or group discussion where a class of students is divided into some groups and activities are assigned to them. Each group tries to solve the problem or finish the activity by interacting among themselves.

 

Besides this, puzzles, games, role play, skit, story-telling, demonstration using real objects, taking students on an educational tour, playing a subject-related video, showing a documentary in the classroom are all examples of activity-based learning/teaching methods.

 

Activity-based learning: Benefits and challenges

 

Every individual has the maximum learning potential in his/her childhood because 90% of brain development happens by the age of 5 years. Childhood is a crucial stage as the first 8 years of life build the foundation for health, learning and overall life success in future. This emphasizes the need to choose the right strategy to teach children so that their potential is optimally utilized.

 

 It is a well-known fact that children are playful by nature. However, they are spontaneous and have a short attention span. Thus Activity-based learning (ABL) is inevitably one of the best ways a child can acquire and retain knowledge.

 

Some of the key benefits of activity-based learning are listed below:

 

  • Ensures better participation of kids in learning process: When the children are given an activity they are both physically and mentally involved in it thus engaging multiple faculties which provides better stimulation of senses and in turn better learning.
  • Leads to deeper learning and understanding: As the old proverb goes, ‘I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.’ Thus, ABL always gives a deeper insight into the subject matter as the children learn through experimentation. They have the scope of making mistakes too and hence gather genuine learning.
  • Encourages creativity and out-of-box thinking: Learning through activities provides an excellent platform for children to come up with innovative ideas for the same problem. Creativity and out-of-box thinking are rewarded and encouraged in this type of learning.
  • Builds team spirit and social skills: When the children are grouped together to perform a task, they collaborate with each other to successfully complete it, thus eventually learning the essence of teamwork. This also builds their social skills and value system.
  • Helps to put learning into context: A key feature of activity-based learning is that it helps children apply their learning in real-life situations, thus establishing the relevance and utility of learning resources and materials.
  •  Leads to better knowledge retention: Since students learn through exploring and experimenting themselves, the learning becomes an output of experience and has clarity and thus stays with the student.

 

 Though activity-based learning has some undisputed benefits, it has its own set of limitations too. Time constraint to design and coordinate activities, indiscipline in students and inconvenience due to physical environment of classroom or disinterest from students who are not aligned to participate in a particular activity can be other challenges in activity-based learning. Also some subjects are more complicated to be adapted into relevant activities.

 

Project Based Learning: Meaning and Advantages

 

Project-based learning (PBL) is deeper, more detailed and complex than activity-based learning. In this teaching method, students are presented with a complicated problem, challenge or a question and asked to find the solution to the same by conducting their own research.

 

The problems presented are usually real-time problems and students are expected to design workable solutions. A project needs detailed research, use of diverse skills and takes more time in completion and execution than any form of traditional academic coursework.

 

Project-based learning prepares students for real-life situations and increases their workplace readiness too. Moreover a single project might demand the students to integrate knowledge and information from multiple academic subjects and skill areas, thus giving scope for in-depth investigation and analysis of the problem in question. It boosts the creativity, critical & analytical prowess, and communication and collaboration skills of an individual.

 

E-learning education programme and its advantages

 

E-learning or virtual learning has practically revolutionized the education landscape by transforming the process of acquiring knowledge. E-learning education programmes which includes online courses, webinars, learning forums, podcasts, video streaming services etc. are helping educators and students alike by facilitating innovative teaching and learning methods. 

 

For example a teacher can explain some concepts better with the help of an educational video or students from different schools can participate in a seminar and interact with subject experts without anyone having to actually travel to a common location.

 

It was through E-learning that education in schools and colleges could continue during the pandemic. Now, students can study and even obtain a college degree from a foreign university without even having to leave their home. In project work too, students find it convenient to research online as internet offers unlimited resource materials anywhere and anytime.

 

Donate for education in India

 

Education holds the key to a great future. While some students are making breakthroughs in the field of education with the help of modern aids, there are poor and marginalized kids who still do not have access to even basic education. NGOs like the Smile Foundation are dedicatedly working to ensure that every child receives the gift of education. As responsible citizens of the country you can support this cause. Donate for education and help in building an empowered nation.

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Role of Youth in Nation Building

No nation can imagine themselves without the vitality of its youth population.

 

Young kids are crucial because they are the foundation of our future. They are our partners today, but they’ll become our leaders tomorrow. Young people are excited and energised. They are able to pick up new skills and adjust to dynamic surroundings. There is a central role of youth in nation building.

 

Without a nation’s youth, it cannot survive. No matter what industry we wish to advance in—be it technology or sports—youth is required. We must decide how to assist them in carrying out this job effectively. All of the kids need to be made aware of their potential and their part in the development of the country.

 

Skill Development Programme

 

The major goal of the Skill India initiative is to give young people appropriate training in skills. Additionally, it aspires to increase the total scope and space for neglected sectors as well as possibilities for talent development in the nation.

 

The Role of Youth in National Development

 

The future of politics, the economy, technology, and medical science lies in the hands of the youth. The issues the globe is currently experiencing include famine, joblessness, climate change, and other forms of pollution. The future generation has the solution to all of these issues.

 

In any nation, the youth represent the most vital and energetic element of the population. Statistics indicate that developing nations with sizable youth populations might see significant development in all areas of their economies if they invest in young people’s rights, education, and health. The youthful brains of today will become the leaders, inventors, builders, and innovators of tomorrow.

 

Numerous job possibilities are possible due to globalisation and India’s booming economy, particularly in the retail and service industries. Previously thought to be less significant, interpersonal behaviour, communication, presentation, client management, company growth, computer competence, and negotiating abilities are now required for candidacy. Today’s entry-level employment requirements have grown to include handling clients skillfully on the phone or via email, working well in teams, giving presentations, and dealing with customers gracefully in person.

 

Indian Youth and Unlocking its True Potential

 

In the entire world, India’s youth have the largest population. This gives India an edge over other countries. The developed wealthy countries of the world have an increasing senior citizen population. Additionally, after 75 years of independence Indians are getting more and more educated, this is giving lots of employment opportunities to India youngsters. India is also advancing in many areas of science and business. 

 

Indian youth hold the key for the advancement of India and also for the entire world to an extent. Youth must be encouraged and given access to excellent health, training, and education if they are to be effective leaders, inventors, and innovators who can change the world. When the Youth are employed and generating money rather than being dependent on anyone, the economy of the nation will grow.

 

Youth has the ability to fix the majority of the issues that our country is now experiencing. The only thing today’s youth require is the opportunity to succeed. Through several demonstrations against violence against women and corruption, we have seen how the youth can bring people from all ethnic groups together. Youth decides which path a nation undertakes at the turn of every decade.

 

Smile Foundation

 

Smile Foundation strives to give underprivileged youth of India access to career counselling and skill training programmes to help them choose the best career path for themselves and make a great India in the future. You can donate to the Tayyari Kal Ki, an employability training initiative of Smile Foundation and strengthen the role of youth in nation building.

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Regain The Lost Ground In Learning: Survey Report 2022, Part 4

The Covid pandemic created the biggest disruption in the Education sector. UNESCO in its observation said, “One year into the COVID-19 pandemic, close to half the world’s students are still affected by partial or full school closures, and over 100 million additional children will fall below the minimum proficiency level in reading as a result of the health crisis.” Moreover, there are not many studies exploring the kind of mental and psychological impact the pandemic imprinted among the children. We wanted to close this gap and so, an Education Survey by Smile Foundation was conducted to assess and analyse the ground issues related to learning.

 

Therefore, prioritising education recovery is crucial to avoid generational devastation. Learning loss due to Covid and its aftermath remains incalculable, and educational institutions across the globe and especially India got severely disrupted.

 

Amid uncertainty and educational policies that remain ineffective, (New Educational Policy, 2020) students’ learning loss is inevitable. From the mounting rates of students developing anxiety and depression to a learning loss that might not be mitigated in the future are some of the aftermaths of virus. 

 

Education Survey by Smile Foundation- Need

 

Smile Foundation, a leading organisation in education sector reaching out to the most inaccessible population, had experienced the learning loss due to school closures and understood its severe repercussions to a child’s future. The foundation quickly commissioned a Nationwide survey to understand the factual situation.

 

The evidence-based survey was carried out in a scientific manner by a team of professional researchers covering the qualitative and qualitative aspects to understand the learning loss in age-appropriate learning, as well as to lay a recovering roadmap to fill in that gap and regain the lost ground in individual learning.

 

The main aspects of the survey were to:

 

  1. cover integrated curriculum consisting of cognitive and
  2. development domains of literacy, numeracy, creative expression, motor skills development,  
  3. whole words, reading and listening comprehension, Grammar, Writing and speaking expressions. 

 

Tools developed were administered with a wide range of education stakeholders, covering respondents like students, parents, teachers, head masters and educational experts. 

 

Findings and Implications

 

Based on the findings of the Education Survey by Smile Foundation’s Mission Education team, we learnt that learning abilities of children were on a sharp plunge. Much damage had already been done; the sector must urgently work towards preventing it from getting worse. Thus, immediate remedial actions were taken up as part of ‘Shiksha Na Ruke’, and through it, we engaged the students, parents and academicians to adopt to the recommendations of the study and also come up with various child friendly approaches

 

Our Mission Education Centres offered:

 

Learning loss due to Covid has induced worry in the sector. The Smile Foundation is helping all school stakeholders (Teachers, Headmasters, Parents, Community etc.,) to help students to lessen the learning divide. Shifting from the traditional system, we adopted a multi-pronged approach of teaching through books, to learn via videos, activities, workbooks, introduction of value based educational sessions, provision of nutritious snacks, engaging parents etc.  Few of the strategies devised and initiated among our ME Centres are:

 

  1. Adopted a hybrid model and shifted between online and offline mode whenever required without causing any learning loss. (using various free online platforms, keeping them abreast with any unforeseen eventualities)
  2. To finish the unfinished learning, they carried out bridge/remedial sessions/activities as a part of their curriculum, which helped students catch up on their lost learning.  
  3. Formation of Student Clubs and encouraging them to re-engage them, for peer learning, sharing of notes, doing recreational and fun activities.
  4. Peer based learning – students who are faring well in academics were provided an opportunity to initiate peer-based learning. Student-to-Student learning are yielding rich dividends in terms of enhanced learning and motivation.
  5. Offers a curriculum supported by technology that makes a curriculum interesting so that parents don’t have to force their children to study.
  6. Regular parents-teachers’ meetings and staying in regular touch with parents to keep them updated about their child’s progress to fill the learning gaps  
  7. We have ensured in-person learning and are leveraging technology for learning .
  8. The centre teachers were encouraged to attend orientation and training sessions, which were offered online, to help them speed up bridging the learning loss, and coping up with the paradigm shift from students offline-to-online and online-to-offline learnings.
  9. Also, to make the learning sessions more interesting to make them not fall prey to online addiction (an issue that many parents had complained about)

 

Responsibility of Social Development Organisations

 

Access to quality education was uneven even before the pandemic, and now it is even more so.  Unprecedented times call for innovative solutions, like investing more in learning recovery, community engagement, using technology wisely will certainly yield fruitful results. Yes, it might seem like a herculean challenge to regain the lost ground.

 

However, as social development professionals we need to be profound in our approaches of improving the situation as well be optimistic that certainly we can use this lost time to the advantage of children and see this pandemic experience as a catalyst of renewed energy.  

 

You can become an active part in changing the lives of kids in need through Smile Foundation’s flagship initiative, Mission Education (ME). A stronger, brighter and hopeful India depends on the future of kids. All of us should do our part in making their dreams possible.