There are over 139 million migrants who move internally across various states within India. Most belong to Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and come to Maharashtra and Delhi searching for work opportunities. Seasonal or short-term migrants belong to the low-paying, hazardous and informal category and are often employed at construction sites, industries such as textile, manufacturing etc.
Around 90 per cent of children of seasonal migrants are excluded from accessing benefits from Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), and 80 per cent of school-going children do not access education near their worksites. They face poor personal and intellectual development and have low self-esteem and insecurity, limiting their ability to reach their highest potential.
With an aim to reach out to the most vulnerable sections and improve early childhood education, Sesame Workshop India-an educational nonprofit has developed the 'Play.Connect.Learn' project that provides kids with well-researched, culturally-relevant content in their mother tongue on a digital device and helps in improving their reading skills.
Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit behind the Sesame Street-an American children's television series (famous for its Muppets), its Hindi language adaptation 'Galli Galli Sim Sim', and so much more to engage children and families. Its mission is to help kids everywhere grow smarter, stronger and kinder.
Play-Based Learning Approach
'Play.Connect.Learn' is an innovative self-paced learning application loaded with stories and games provided to children at home to promote early reading proficiency. The app is also used as a supplementary teaching tool in schools and has reached over 12,000 children so far.
As per the Annual Status of Education Report 2017, almost 42.5 per cent of children in Grade 3 cannot read a Grade 1 level text. In Maharashtra, 92 per cent of children in Grade 1 and 81 per cent in Grade 2 read below grade level. This reveals that while children may be attending school, they are not learning. Evidence suggests that learning in the mother tongue in the early years helps children build a more robust learning foundation. Multiple studies have also demonstrated the positive impact of using digital technology to promote learning.
"During the COVID-19 pandemic, Sesame Workshop launched two YouTube channels in Hindi and Telugu, respectively. In addition to the fun and engaging content for children, we are also providing curriculum-based content on social-emotional well-being and education-led content to deal with COVID and its after effects. Right from hygiene, healthy habits to recognising and managing emotions, we made them aware of everything," said Sonali Khan, Managing Director of Sesame Workshop India, while speaking to The Logical Indian.
Teaching Methods To Deal With Mental Health
The organisation has been creating materials for children as well as their parents for their mental well-being during the pandemic. "This was one of the most-watched playlists and got over 17 million views on YouTube. People were and still are looking for this kind of content to help them deal with the crisis," she added.
Sonali Khan leads Sesame Workshop's educational mission in India to create innovative and engaging content that maximises the educational power of all media to help children grow intellectually. She spearheads the organisation that combines the power of mass media with educational outreach to prepare children for school and life. Under her leadership, Sesame Workshop India develops and implements ground-breaking programs to reach children everywhere, especially those who need it the most.
"My 7-year-old grandson, Samarth, has a learning disability. Due to the disability, he couldn't concentrate in class and would often run back home. The mobile application helped him connect with the characters Chamki and Googly and understand lessons being taught in school. It gave him the confidence to fit into school. He can now recognise and read words," Madhukar Sanone from Jalgaon shared, who accessed the Play Connect Learn app in Marathi.
Regarding the project's impact, children (both boys and girls) from the intervention group had significantly higher scores than the comparison group in 4 of the 6 indicators - letter name identification, syllable identification, familiar word reading and oral reading fluency.
Providing Digital Content In 6 Indian Languages
Sonali believes that the most significant positive point of Sesame Workshop India's various s initiatives is that it is multilingual and culturally relevant in its approach at the initial stages of content development. Currently, the organisation works in over six Indian languages, providing educational material and learning access.
In addition, it provides printed material to the far-flung areas of the country where children often face challenges due to poor internet connection. "For example, in Meghalaya, we have provided home-based learning material to reach the last mile. We have also provided IVRS for those who don't have smartphones, where children can call in and listen to the learning material," Sonali said.
Also Read: Citing Content Overlap, NCERT Drops References To Gujarat Riots, Cold War, Mughal Courts From Textbooks