Education has moved online in the wake of COVID-19. Schools and colleges were left with no choice during the lockdown but to switch to digital education. There is no certainty when schools will reopen and student lives will go back to normal. With no end in sight to the pandemic, it seems like online learning CSR initiatives will become a standard for social projects in the days to come. Teachers Day 2020 is around the corner and these initiatives are also ensuring they get the respect that gurus deserve.
Online learning CSR initiatives in the wake of COVID-19
The future is uncertain especially for students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds who can neither afford the laptops and smartphones that virtual classes call for, nor have internet and mobile connectivity in the remote areas they live in. Some NGOs are educating kids online. Corporate social responsibility is stepping in to fill this yawning gap in education, with online learning CSR initiatives specifically designed for such students. These campaigns ensure that students stay safe at home and continue with their education despite the outbreak.
Karona Thodi Masti, Thodi Padhai (Welspun Group)
The CSR arm of Welspun Group has launched home learning initiative ‘Karona Thodi Masti, Thodi Padhai’ in order to provide continuous education for government school students in Anjar, Valsad and Bharuch, during the pandemic.
The company has already enabled education for 7500 students across 30 government schools so far and is looking to expand its outreach to include more students within the district. This effort is an extension of Welspun’s flagship CSR programme ‘Wel-Accelerate’ that aims to promote the importance of education amongst children and the community at large. Through this new initiative, Welspun aims to leverage its technology tools and digital content to introduce education packages that encourage and support continued learning in a fun and engaging manner.
The programme will use both offline and online platforms to ensure the students not only learn in a fun way but also be able to complete their syllabus as per NCERT guidelines. It includes teachers creating worksheets on various subjects for the students to enable schooling at home and also a WhatsApp and SMS series to enable parents or older siblings to engage children in project-based activities.
Adopt a School (UST Global)
UST Global recently won the PMI Kerala Community Project of the Year Award for 2020 for its Adopt a School CSR initiative which has gone online during the pandemic. The Adopt a School programme provides support to over 6,500 children of 30 Government schools spread across Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, and other towns. Under this programme, the company adopts and supports Government or Government-aided schools in the rural and financially backward communities.
In order to enable providing of quality education to children, the Adopt a School programme has been working towards infrastructure development of the schools, teaching and learning improvement with co-curricular activities, digitizing the educational ecosystem.
Learn From Home (Finolex Industries)
In order to ensure that students do not lose on their education during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, Mukul Madhav Vidyalaya (run by the CSR arm of Finolex Industries) started ‘Learn From Home’ for its students. The teachers conducted online teaching sessions with an aim to complete the syllabus of the curriculum on time. This helped in eliminating any pressure on students at a later stage once the schools re-open. Tests and assessments too were conducted online.
These online sessions not only helped the students with their studies but also made rural children familiar with the use and application of computers and smartphones as a medium to take their daily school lessons.
DigiSakshar (Vodafone Idea & NASSCOM)
Vodafone India Foundation, in partnership with CGI and NASSCOM Foundation, has started online digital skills portal DigiSakshar.org. A CSR initiative of Vodafone Idea, developed under their ‘Connecting for Good programme’, DigiSakshar aims to empower the marginalized communities and help them become a part of the digital economy.
The free-to-use portal provides over 40 courses in both Hindi and English, designed for all age groups and curated to cover basic, intermediate and advanced knowledge on digital skills. The courses range from basics of computer operations, handling mobile phones, using internet securely, digital payments etc. The web platform curates personalized content from different sources in Hindi and English and will soon also be available in Kannada, Oriya and Marathi.
iCare: Volunteer from Home (Hinduja Group)
iCare: Volunteer from Home is a CSR initiative that engaged Hinduja Group Companies’ employees to reach out to underprivileged students across the country and deliver quality education. Corporate volunteers had a choice to conduct 30 minutes sessions using live audio/video calls or pre-recorded audio/videos sessions using commonly available communication mediums, thereby ensuring accessibility to all the beneficiaries.
As part of this initiative, employees of all Hinduja Group Companies including Ashok Leyland, Gulf Oil, Bharat Financial, NXTDigital, Hinduja Foundation and Hinduja Tech taught students of government schools. The programme covered more than 8 states namely — Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Telangana. The foundation looks to progressively examine the possibility of enhancing the scope of the online learning CSR programme to support its (Road to School) RTS target group of 80000 kids across multiple states.
Nand Ghar e-learning (Vedanta Limited)
Vedanta Limited’s, flagship project “Nand Ghar” has rolled out e-learning modules for home-schooling through WhatsApp groups across villages of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Odisha. The e-learning modules consist of stories, games, rhymes, home-based activities, moral science lessons and more for children below six years of age. ICDS, Government of Rajasthan issued an order to roll out Nand Ghar e-content along with UNICEF e-content for children of all 60,000+ Anganwadi centres reaching out to more than 12 lac children in the state.
Whisper MobileShaala (P&G)
School closures could have a permanent effect on the future of many – especially marginalized girls, who are now even more vulnerable to dropping out of school in the absence of structured education. Moving forward with their #KeepGirlsInSchool movement, P&G feminine care brand Whisper has launched ‘Mobileshaala’. It is a CSR initiative to provide free education while schools across the country remain closed. The phone-based learning system gives free access to curriculum-based education modules on key subjects like English, Science and menstrual hygiene education. Whisper has collaborated with Pratham, an NGO that focuses on education for children, to drive this programme.
Home-based learning (The LEGO Group)
Toy brand The LEGO Group, in collaboration with NITI Aayog and Save the Children, has introduced targeted initiatives to promote ‘Learning Through Play’ and support home-based learning in response to COVID-19. This is part of the group and LEGO Foundation’s overall commitment of US $50 million globally to help children and their families impacted by COVID-19.
The company has aligned with Save the Children to promote responsive care-giving and play-based learning practices for children aged 3-8 years both at state and national levels. Additionally, The LEGO Group will bring its global initiative ‘Let’s Build Together’ to India. As a part of its collaboration with Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog, the company will provide offline resources and play activities that foster creativity skills and inculcate design thinking. The CSR initiative will explore training webinars to build capacities for ATL teachers to conduct effective online lessons for students and also webinars for students under AIM’s ‘Tinker from Home’ campaign.
At a juncture of a changing era, these online learning CSR initiatives have proved to be game-changing. They have opened a window of possibility, wherein education is being made available and accessible to every child of around thousands of villages across India.