Our COVID-19 Response

Impact of Covid

India has been one of the countries hardest-hit by COVID-19. Beyond the staggering impact on human life, COVID-19 has greatly impacted access to education in India. 247 million primary and secondary school children were out of school during the pandemic. Access to education technology (ed tech) has been a challenge and students in low- and middle-income communities in particular have had little or no access to online schooling.

A Chennai household survey by the Brookings Institution and J-PAL conducted in February 2021 indicated that 1 in 5 children surveyed did not have access to remote instruction during school closures.

School Since COVID

The Brookings Institution and J-PAL conducted a household survey in Chennai in February 202 and 1 in 5 children surveyed were enrolled in schools that did not offer any remote instruction during the school closures.

Most underprivileged children in India live in small spaces with limited resources and schools are their only access to education. From our inception we have worked with first generation learners and recognized their challenges. Our foundational English program was created to suit the needs of our beneficiaries. Prior to Covid, the thrust of our efforts was student and teacher interventions at low income schools. At AASHA we were forced to reinvent how we reached out to these children during the pandemic. Our experience of teaching during our Mobile Mentor program of 2013 gave us the capability to redesign our English program to enable remote learning. That is how the “Distance Reading Program” was born.

This program was a boon to both volunteers and students. The one-on-one model allowed the students to learn at their own pace and gave ample scope to teachers to motivate, build confidence and mentor the student. The model was not only effective but also convenient for volunteers to join.

With distance no longer a barrier, volunteers from all over the country and abroad signed up to teach with us. AASHA DRP was successful and allowed our volunteers to teach remotely through the pandemic. Volunteers also provided emotional and social support to children during these tough times when they were unable to leave their homes or interact with other children. The families of students were grateful to AASHA as their wards were productively occupied and they welcomed the continuation of DRP classes.

As the pandemic eases and children return to school, at AASHA we hope to continue the phone based one-on-one learning model with children who need the language and reading support.