How This Gurugram-Based NGO Provides Education To Underprivileged Students

Image Credit: Lotus Petal Foundation

How This Gurugram-Based NGO Provides Education To Underprivileged Students

The Lotus Petal Foundation was founded in 2011, focusing on education, vocational training, skill development, livelihood, and new school campus as its primary objectives.

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The entire country bore the heavy impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the last two years. However, education remains one of the most impacted sectors and is likely to have a lasting impact in the decades to come. An overnight shift to the virtual medium was no mean task, and teachers and children both had to get accustomed to attending classes in front of their computer screens.

Over 15 Crore Students Out Of School In India

Yet, the most impacted strata of the society remained the poor. Migrant workers started moving to their villages, and several families had only one or no phone for their children to continue their education. Therefore, the dropout rates skyrocketed. In August last year, Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said that 15 crore children were out of India. COVID-19 once again exposed glaring inequalities, with education moving to online mode, thus widening the digital divide and affecting the learning outcomes.

However, at this point, an NGO named the Lotus Petal Foundation started their Vidya Sahyog Program, in collaboration with the Department of School Education under the Haryana government to reduce the learning gap of 2,800 students in grades 1 to 3rd and improve their focus on the English language.

While explaining in detail about the Vidya Sahyog Program to The Logical Indian, Kushal Chakravorty, the co-founder of Lotus Petal Foundation, said, "The program is meant to help the students of government schools attain education through both online and offline mediums. The program plays an integral role in imparting quality education through the digital medium". The teachers associated with the foundation take online classes from the Gurugram-based campus, which are relayed directly to several government schools. If the need arises, the students can also attend the lectures from their homes. The foundation also trains government teachers to take online classes and mark the students' attendance.

Education, Nutrition, Livelihood: Thematic Areas

While speaking about the several initiatives of the Lotus Petal Foundation, Chakravorty said, "We mainly focus on three thematic areas: education, nutrition and livelihood. Under education, we provide several programs; for instance, under our flagship program, we take 12 to 14 years of children who have either dropped out of school or are studying in a class lower than their age and enrol them in classes so that they can complete their grade 10 and 12, and equip them with a vocational skill while making them digitally literate".

To ensure that the young individuals fit correctly into the corporate culture, the foundation calls their alumni who are already well placed in leading multinational companies who teach the appropriate mannerisms to the students. The idea is that when the recent graduates enter the corporate world, they can gel in easily with the rest of their colleagues. Moreover, the NGO also provides scholarships for girl students in medical, engineering, nursing and pharma.

Under their nutrition sector, Chakravorty explained, "We have a wellness program under which we provide medical intervention as and when required. Moreover, during COVID, we forked into the telemedicine sector, in which we helped people communicate with their doctors and avail the of treatment and medical advice. To date, we have helped over 17,000 people in this manner and provided more than 10,000 vaccinations".

In India, about 35 per cent of children under the age of five show stunting due to acute malnutrition and the lack of proper nutrition. Therefore, the foundation has a fully-functional kitchen that helps reduce food shortages in their premises. Women workers employed in the organization carry out the production of more than 2000 meals every day. During the last two years, Chakravorty said that the organization has distributed over 6,00,000 meals.

Programs Under Livelihood Sector

Further, under the livelihood sector, the NGO has started two programs named Jeevika and BlueKhoj. Firstly, Jeevika is a skill development that focuses on the students at the senior secondary level. The teachers of government schools carry out detailed tests to assess the student's strengths and aptitude. Moreover, the students at the senior secondary level can choose amongst the 16 vocational courses offered by the NIIT Foundation.

These courses are in the sectors of Banking & Financial Services, Electronics & IT hardware industry, Health care Services, Transportation, Retail, Tele-communications and Tourism & Hospitality.

While speaking to The Logical Indian about the foundation managed to support children during the pandemic when a mass exodus of migrant workers started walking home, Chakravorty explained, "In March 2020, when the lockdown happened, we started online classes within a week. We assured the parents that their children's classes would continue. Our teachers started taking classes, and meanwhile, we took orientation classes with parents to help them understand the new methods of education. After that, we decided to provide tablets or laptops to the students to attend their classes. Therefore, within the next three to four months, we could equip all the students with digital devices so that their education does not suffer".

Meanwhile, in the kitchen in the school, we asked the workers to make small boxes of cooked meals for the children, who just had to come to the school and pick them up now. When the first lockdown phase was lifted, the organization started with the BlueKhoj initiative. They provide livelihood options to the parents of their students who are looking for new opportunities. The organization aims to help the parents secure their incomes and have a sustainable livelihood.

Most people got used to the new method of education by the time the first wave subsided. Therefore, the organization was already well-prepared to handle the second wave in 2021.

The Lotus Petal Foundation was founded in 2011, focusing on education, vocational training, skill development, livelihood, and new school campus as its primary objectives. Moreover, in the last few years, the NGO has partnered with several corporates to make a lasting impact on society and create more awareness to reach out to a larger mass. NGOs like Lotus Petal are helping corporates achieve their Corporate-Social Responsibility goals by supporting with expertise in the field.

Non-profit organizations function to make sure that the government's developmental initiatives reach the grassroots level and improve the lives of those who need them the most. The social organizations work towards a common goal of bringing a collective social change in society.

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