The global outbreak of COVID- 19 has spread worldwide. The outbreak of the pandemic has taught us that changes are inevitable. The pandemic has created biggest disturbance in the process of education systems. Around 32 crores learners stopped going to schools/colleges and all educational activities stopped in the country. The educational institutions switched over to the online platform with technology. The social distancing and the imposition of lockdowns have changed our traditional learning practices.
The challenges with respect to online teaching have been experienced by both the teachers and the learners. The over-all challenges observed with respect to online teaching are accessibility, affordability, flexibility and learning pedagogy. The economically backward children are unable to afford online learning device. Families residing in slums either do not have smart phones, laptops or computers. The available internet is used by many people as a medium of communication or for the entertainment purpose. The changed mode of education requires unlimited use of internet so it is necessary for the students to use the internet for the educational purpose primarily.
The other challenge which is observed is the digital literacy. Low / no digital literacy is observed among the users which makes it difficult to switch to online education. The family members or children find it very difficult to use the technology and its devices effectively due to this many students may get discourage to use the internet. Another difficulty faced by students is the home environment. The environment in which they reside may not be suitable for learning and studying. The majority of the children do not have their own personal space to study. The lack of space, peace causes a block in the daily routine of studies. The children staying in slums lack some of the basic amenities such as electricity, smart phones, internet connection so it is difficult for them to cope up with the online education. Online education demands for self - learning which is difficult for many students as they need additional guidance. In the situation of self - learning the chances of paying half- hearted attention or dropping out increases. In many cases children loose attention and get distracted very easily or they feel bored even if the teaching content is good.
To overcome the challenges which are faced by the students of the slums in the era of online learning, Umang Foundation Trust is undertaking activities to help the students to cope up with the online learning. The trust has distributed various kinds of books to the students residing in the slums. These books include textbooks, story books, English learning books, notebooks, note pads. In the activities which were conducted by Umang foundation Trust, they have distributed note pads, books to the students studying in Vakola English school. They have successfully donated text books from standard 5th – 8th to all the students studying at Vikroli Vidyalaya. With the support of Target Publications, they have provided sets of 10th standard English medium books to the students. The trust has also been successful in distributing art kits and story books to small children. Every week the volunteers of the trust conducts a series of online English learning class on the zoom platform to teach English to students. The trust has conducted session to educate teachers and volunteers so that they can guide students to manage their daily studies. The trust reaches out to different schools and conducts sessions on topics such as time management and studies, how to concentrate in the studies. The trust also conducted online counselling sessions for the 10th standard students which could help them to focus more on the studies during the time of boards.
Umang Foundation Trust is thus trying to make the journey of online teaching easy for students and the contribution of the trust stands remarkable.