Shared notes from first meeting of coalition on July 16, 2021

Education Emergency – National Coalition consultation on 16th July 2021 – shared notes

Sajitha Bashir:
We’re all here for a definite reason and coming together is important.
The health emergency is immediate, palpable, we see immediate effects of good management, good treatment, etc
The education emergency on the other hand is invisible, we don’t see children gasping for knowledge and this may be the reason why there is inadequate public discourse in this regard. People are not really “seeing” what happens if children lose out on one or two years of education
What is being offered in india and other developing countries as online/remote learning is not adequate
In advanced countries there has been an effort to reopen schools, at least in a staggered manner. In India, it is still in talks.

We need to be an action oriented coalition.
Focus on two broad areas:

  • Educational support to schools./communities
  • Social mobilisation: education must become a socio-political issue

Targets for the next 3 months:

  • Developing a reopening strategy; not necessarily a national strategy, but focussing on the principles
  • Curating educational resources
  • Parent/media resources

Ranjini: once schools open, we need to look at how we can support teachers develop flexible pedagogy
Need to move away from the discourse of “how to strengthen digital”

Angela: There are already existing coalitions in India that are concerned with education. Do we need another one? What is the agenda does this coalition have? What is the purpose? Whose job is it to ensure delivery? Who develops the teaching-learning material?


Govinda: Centralised decisions are a problem, decision making needs to be localised, action needs to be decentralised. Take inspiration from other countries that have dealt with the situation in a better manner.

We’ve discussed the NEP more than we have discussed this education emergency.
Learning deficit will be problematic;
Need to look at ways and models in which we can support professionally trained teachers/volunteers to enable learning in a localised manner.
Range of ideas and resources can be used to make learning meaningful and broaden the definition of curriculum.

BGVS experience of teachers

  • There is interest from teachers to reach out to students and there were discussions and efforts being made to figure out how to do that

vatara shaale

  • Main intention of opening schools was only to conduct the 10th exams
  • Between Aug-Oct beginning vatara shaale functioned but was soon closed
  • Across karnataka, Not a large proportion of students(class 10 and class 6-8) came to schools, many were out of school, mostly from marginalised setions of society
  • 31000 vatara shaales in 6 districts but there was no stability
  • There is a space/scope for teachers to get involved if stability of the program can be ensured
  • Opening school does not mean that a large proportion of students would come back to school
  • Vatara shaale initiative saw an enhanced relation building among teachers and students, there was more interest about the curriculum and what was being taught there

one district in Bihar and Jharkand each

  • We had multiple strategies to engage with teachers, dept. and learners.
  • didi-bhaiya networks:
  • ghar ghar pathshala: jharkand govt.

reached out to learners in each village through volunteers. Challenges: detailed learning plan could not be implemented through volunteers

  • Community libraries: students could come and study. Taken up mainly by local communities.
  • Mothers took initiative to gather groups of 4-5 kids and working with them
  • Webinars to equip teachers and HMs to use google meet, whatsapp
  • SEL with teachers, used presentations to engage children
  • Teachers went door-to-door to interact with students, developed small app to share textbooks with children, facebook sessions, shared textbooks through whatsapp
  • Households having smartphones and internet access is a small perventage
  • Tried remote learning strategies:
  • IVRS: sent messages that were a trigger for children to engage in a certain activity.
  • initially reach was limited but after we engages with HMs, teachers, authorities, engagement improved.
  • SMS/whatsapp: script of the IVRS
  • introduced a call-back number as well: whenever children got access to a device, they can call up the number, listen to the IVRS message and do the activity
  • STEM education: mentors worked closely with children

Madhya Pradesh

  • Govt. has made classes available on youtube and developed regular material for mohalla classes but not everything is available in remote areas
  • Ekalvya, Room to read, other NGOs supplement education work initiatives of govt.; provide worksheets, etc in the mohalla classes.
  • In urban space research needs to be done on what children have been doing, and their view points
  • People just handover mobile phones to children, not really having any supervision. Children getting addicted to mobile systems as games such as Pokemon are being made available in Hindi. Needs to be looked into.
  • There is direct connection between parents and panchayat groups. materials handed over to them. This too can be look into.
  • Associating learning with agriculture, health, nutrition
  • SEL needs to be prioritised atleast for a year or two. Following that, it can be integrated into the school curriculum.
  • interested in working directly with the community

Coalition can assist those interested in setting up of teaching-learning models such as mohalla classes, how to go about it, what could be the content, how to stabilise it, etc

To Deepika: What was the response of local and disctrict administration to your work? Did it lead to more demand for such educational work by parents, community?
Dist. administration itself wanted us to work on this. We already had a network of adolescent girls we were already working with.
In jharkand, state is making a lot of efforts to reach out of the children
In Bihar, efforts are limited. It is only now that there are discussions to send learning materials to children.
Dist, administration interested in the IVRS program

Deepika: Tribal children shared that if everyone had to eat adequately , then not everyone will have enough. They wanted schools to open for mid-day meals.
Children more irritable, more violent. Cumulative effect of the pandemic needs to be discussed and cannot be ignored; leaning loss not the only issue at hand

Subhankar: Teachers show willingness to reach out to children. DSERT providing only online worksheets, textbooks, no support provided to even print out the worksheets, etc

Only textbooks are not meaningful for children’s learning.
Bridge courses, etc meaningless.

Anjali: We need to question why we are in this space and who do we represent.
Civil society sector has geared towards supporting the govt. sector. Private funders also mainly work with govt. school system. nobody looking at private schools.
civil space and state space; civil society needs to focus on the civil space and voice opinions through that.

RTE and community mobilisation for restoring RTE

  • No clear policy/road map based on basic principles to set a normative framework to protect rights of children
  • Lack of scientific understanding of the pandemic.
  • COVID is not affecting children to same extent (as adults)
  • RTE also encompasses nutrition, recreation, mental and physical health
  • Schools with a small number of students can be opened. there was not enough advocacy for this and govt. also did not take decisions based on scientific findings
  • Technical committee recommendations:
    • open schools to optimise mental health, physical health and nutrition
    • decentralise decision making, RTE has been designed that way. providing education is responsibility of local authorities


  • Priority to open schools faced with hurdles, children of primary and upper primary most affected
  • Kerala started digital classes and it went well for 3-4 months, but was not expected to continue for the whole academic year

3 components:

  • not alternate classes; only to bridge academic gap/provide support till schools begin
  • No student must be left out
  • Teachers should do follow up activities through social media, etc, to ensure continuation of access to digital education
  • Now, focus of govt. has shifted to ensure students have access to devices and internet for online education
  • CM emphasied to include tribal children in digital education and make devices accessible to them. 70,000 children identified of which about 40,000 are needy and govt. now looking at distribution of devices to them
  • There should be civil society involvement to push govts to open schools.
  • Talks of 3rd wave,

Niranjan: online education only to supplement and not substitute

in states like Kerala, there was atleast an effort to reach out to students, explote digital options. not the same case in the north.

  • dialouge between indian states needs to be strengthened
  • first priority should be to align with groups that have worked with food vulnerability initiatives. align with food security issues/groups. these are most vulnerable groups
  • rights based discourse ought to reach the most vulnerable of the society
  • priority for scheduled tribe groups that are extremely vulnerable. mobile phones have become a symbol of power.
  • Narrow down on the local, cross learning among states, and work with grassroots organisations
  • ask for panchayat bhavans which can be the sites for public use, computer access
  • science and rationality based discourses

Santi Snigdha:

  • Cases of children denied education because of lack of access to devices, financial constraints, loss of livelihood
  • schools can be opened with 50% capacity, asking children to come to school on alternate days
  • if schools not opened, community to be involved to ensure students access education
  • tag teachers with a group of students, with teachers being in regular contact with students, visit them frequently
  • vaccination for children
  • Teachers must be treated as frontline workers and vaccinated on priority
  • advocacy on how children can be vaccinated and how schools can be reopened taking inspiration from other countries


  • children need to relearn going to school, learning defivit should not be the only focus.
  • opening schools not a black and white phenomena, needs to be a graded consideration. No discussions underway in India regarding this

soft opening — hard opening

  • how to organise children in class? 30-children classes to be reorganised to 15-children classes. bio bubbles to be created.
  • graded school opening – needs a detailed consideration of all issues
  • classes in open air vs inside classrooms – to be explored
  • schools work under different conditions, different student densities in classes, different age ranges
  • Teacher community and their voices need to be heard, social mobilisation to support teachers
  • not all teachers are form the same locality of the school, they need to travel – how to deal with this?

Dharmendra: Family emergencies should not affect the educational needs of the child.

Classes beginning for classes 11 and 12
No fee hike and regulation on collecting fees apart from tuition fees in private schools
opening govt. schools for primary classes a far cry


  • ring immunization for adults when schools open
  • decisions to be decentralised
  • systems to be in place for reviewing situation and acting in case of emergencies

support in terms of collating

  • research – data and evidence
  • media articles
  • innovative models

Focus of EE to be on:

  • Education
  • Health and Safety
  • Social Assistance
  • coalition can help to develop protocols and principles to reopen schools
  • Need to share more examples, case studies, video resources by schools, teacher groups, NGOs that are aiding children’s learning
  • importance of stability of such efforts, and SEL

Social mobilisation:
comparison/dialogue across states; policy trackers
focus on poorer states, prioritise tribal and other marginalised groups
organisations: teacher orgs, orgs working in food vulnerability, grassroots organisations

major issues when reopening schools at this point of time:

  • getting children back; we should focus on enrolment more than retention
  • issues in tracking children
  • hesitancy to come to schools

Anjali: tracking academic resources being provided by govt.
curating post covid resources,

NCPCR has been absent in terms of speaking up for children during the pandemic, why? what have been their efforts?
Mahila Kosh
NEP: advocacy on where to build nodes with universities for teacher support, education
schools have open spaces, construct safe learning environments in these spaces; atal tinkering labs

Somya: clusters pre-defined by govt., make for
PHCs, allow for response in emergency situations
enable migrant communities to stay back

Padma: curating resources, in local languages, to support local groups/action
support practice on ground

Niranjan: how to engage with SMCs, teacher groups, student organisations, SHGs, to demystify pandemic understanding, fears,
Bottomline to restore the fundamental right of the child; article 21(a)

have smaller follow up meeting to chart out the 3 month plan
have a plan to talk and reach out organisations
circulate the action plan and newsletter
create working groups for each of the two fronts, identify objectives that can be met

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