Jharkhand:Amid Pandemic Struggles, Mother Of 8-Year-Old Finds A Way To Educate Her Daughter

Image Credit: Save The Children

Save the Children

Jharkhand:Amid Pandemic Struggles, Mother Of 8-Year-Old Finds A Way To Educate Her Daughter

Pushplata Kunkal, an 8-year-old girl from West Singhbhum district in Jharkhand, was an active, curious and cheerful girl, but her behaviour changed drastically during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Pushplata Kunkal, an 8-year-old girl from West Singhbhum district in Jharkhand, was an active, curious and cheerful girl, but her behaviour changed drastically during the COVID-19 pandemic. She became aggressive, short-tempered and showed a complete lack of interest in anything. The reason behind this drastic change was her inability to pursue studies during this period.

She started feeling left out as she saw her friends and peers carry on with their daily lessons. Her father Arjun Singh Kunkal worked as a labourer and her mother Drupati Kunkal was an ASHA worker. Despite both her parents working, their income was not enough to make ends meet. Pushplata's grandmother was also forced to do labour work. Since her parents were illiterate, they were unable to support Pushplata's studies and make her do her daily lessons. Moreover, they couldn't afford a smartphone and couldn't join the online classes. Gradually, Pushplata's interest in studies declined, which had an impact on her behaviour. She started withdrawing from all activities that earlier excited her. This change left her parents deeply worried.

During the COVID-19 pandemic when schools and Anganwadi centres were closed, parents and children participated in the Save the Children's program on Early Literacy and Maths (ELM) under the Back to Basics project. In the absence of access to quality early childhood development opportunities at home and systemic support from Anganwadi centres, toddlers fail to attain relevant learning milestones as they graduate into the primary education system. During this critical period, Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) at home emerged as one of the best response strategies to answer the developmental needs of young children who were unable to attend classes at school.

Improving Foundational Learning For Girls

The Back To Basics project specifically aims at improving access to quality early and foundational learning for girls and boys in the 3-8 age group. During this time, our Academic Support Fellows (ASFs), who engage with the community on a regular basis and provide onsite support to Anganwadi workers and primary school teachers, started visiting homes of children enrolled in Anganwadis and schools to conduct Early Literacy and Maths sessions.

When our ASF Onami Kumari Gope would do these activities with children, Pushplata would stand and watch. One day, Onami called her and asked her name and other details. The ASF found out that though she studies in Class 2, the child couldn't identify a single alphabet. Her poor performance even shocked her mother Drupati. She understood what her child has lost by not having access to regular classes. Drupati then requested the ASF to help her with her studies. Since Pushpalata's parents were illiterate, they could not participate in her education and had pinned all their hopes on Onami, who explained the concepts of ELM through Gulmohar - a collection of short, informative and easy to use videos at home. These videos are sent to parents' groups and were also shared with Drupati. "Despite being illiterate, Drupati took a keen interest in Pushplata's studies. She took personal care to teach her daughter and develop her learning skills," said Onami.

Drupati did not have a smartphone but tried to do the activities with her child as directed in the videos. Later, she saved enough money to buy a smartphone and joined the parents' group. After following the activities of the videos, her daughter Pushpalata learnt alphabet recognition, numbers and counting. Pushpalata's interest in studies was also gradually restored.

"Now my child is enjoying reading and is trying to teach other children along with her," said Pushplata's mother, who keenly attends village level parents' meetings.

Acknowledging the fact that parents' support can help young children cope with stress, Save the Children has developed the Gulmohar learning module. This module is Save the Children India's package of activities modelled for use by parents/caregivers at home for experiential skill development among children, that is the process of learning by doing. Through this intervention, critical challenges of education during an emergency are addressed.

Also Read: Mission Jeevan Raksha: How RPF Personnel Turned Out Be 'Saviours At Stations' During COVID-19 Pandemic

Contributors Suggest Correction
Writer : Save the Children
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Creatives : Ankita Singh

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