NSE Foundation's programmes have made inroads into remote districts across India, and over time, have evolved models that can be adapted to merging situations. The COVID-19 pandemic provided one such opportunity; when schools were shut due to the lockdown, the Shikshan Mitra model proved successful in reaching children in isolated community spaces and even their homes. NSE Foundation tweaked this mode, to include online learning. WASH initiatives in increasing hygiene awareness too were adopted during the pandemic to spread awareness of handwashing techniques, social distancing and so on.
In addition to learning loss, rates of child labour, child marriage and trafficking typically go up in such situations. With the lockdown creating economic uncertainty, many children had to take up jobs. There was a sharp jump in outs of school children in the 6-10 age group, from 1.8% In 2018 to 5,3% in 2020, according to the ASER survey.
It was precisely during such a time that NSE Foundation utilised its experience in community awareness and institutional strengthening. It’s in school and out-of-school programmes for children in remote areas include training the community youth as para teachers or Shikshan Mitras, cutting the dependence on external school systems. In many remote locations across the country, Shikshan Mitras went door to door with Teaching and Learning Materials (TLMs) even during the pandemic, so that education could continue uninterrupted. The Foundation also strengthens School Management Committees, builds capacity among staff, including teachers, and designs TLMs.
Over the years, the Foundation has conducted programmes in nearly 1,300 Government schools. It has started more than 848 community learning centres for out of school support to over 1 lakh students. Capacity-building and training programmes have additionally reached nearly 2.5 lakh school principals, teachers, SMC members, Gram Panchayat members, Government officials, Shikshan Mitras, parents and family members.