Prayas is now in its 20th year and is catering to different needs of students from the marginalized section of the society, enrolled in formal schooling systems in 2020. Prayas now has an active volunteer base of around 50 members from IITK student community.
Its primary focus has been to provide a smooth transition to online education, in which it has been quite successful. It undertook different measures to make sure that no student from class 9-12 discontinued their education due to the constraints imposed by the lockdown. Teaching could not happen without knowing the kind of lives students are living and hence, Prayas ensured that the families of students had enough food ration during the lockdown. Moreover, the enthusiasm and dedication of its volunteers in these challenging times has been a feat in itself
Volunteers at Prayas discussed with students to be aware of the financial difficulties they might encounter during the online mode classes. A database was prepared to know exactly how many students, what timing (since their parents used the phone too) and which mode (some had smartphones, feature phones while some had none) would they be able to study. Information like the availability of smartphones and internet speed was also collected. Students were then divided into two groups: one who had the facilities and others who didn't. Volunteers were assigned to both the groups. They prepared a database of books that students needed for their studies. Smartphones were also distributed to a few students later
Slow Internet connectivity, insufficient data, students finding it difficult to understant the concepts
through online mode were some of the challenges that were faced. Further students did not have
adequate financial resources to pay their fees and purchase books. Also, few students registering for
their board exams (class 9-12) were unable to do so due to their parents losing jobs during the lockdown. The issues were addressed and funds for the same were arranged.
The volunteers also faced difficulties in teaching through online mode as students were not familiar with the technology, but soon the challenges were seen as opportunities and were overcome.
Since June 2020, all classes were conducted online. The Classes 4-7 were held with special consideration of judicious screen time exposure.
A total of 81 books worth Rs 21,876 were purchased and distributed among the students of classes 8-12. The books mainly comprised NCERT and few other publications like, Vidyaprakashan. Books of different subjects such as Science, Mathematics, English and Social Sciences were purchased.
During the lockdown, Prayas contacted all the students and understood the problems they were facing at a personal level. Due to the unprecedented situation, many families faced food difficulties.To ease their situation, Prayas contacted a few NGOs who were conducting food distribution drives and ensured the supplies reached the children and their families. It also raised funds from Prayas alumni and bought supplies to make it available to the families. Prayas successfully created a network of around 10 volunteers to distribute food supplies to the families of the students regularly over a period of 2 months during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Navgurukul is a non-profit startup working towards women empowerment by providing them free access to software engineering training. For the first time, 4 female Prayas students (Ruchi, Reena, Muskan and Amrita) who completed their higher secondary education were sent to Bangalore for this program. Considering the background of these students, this was a great achievement in itself as these students got a diploma in Computer Science and became self-independent themselves. From preparing these students for tests, interviews, convincing their parents to travel amidst the pandemic; the task required a lot of dedication from the volunteers involved in this initiative. Even now these students are under constant guidance of Prayas alumni.
To keep the creativity flame burning, an interactive session of storytelling/origami was organized by Kartik Abhas, a volunteer of Eklavya Foundation.
In order to encourage the literary and art skills of the students, a magazine, “Ek Pahal” was launched. An account of all the activities and events was also included in the first issue. In future, Prayas plans to make "Ek Pahal" a magazine run entirely by its students.
Around 23% of girls drop out of schools every year due to menstruation in India. There is a lot of stigma in the society regarding the same. To address the lack of conversation and awareness about menstruation, Prayas installed a sanitary pad dispensing machine for girl students and volunteers. Prayas hopes that it will not only empower girls by un-silencing the hushed voices, but also create awareness among boys about the process.
Prayas, now spanning over twenty years, has a large alumni base. Some of these alumni are even still actively engaged in the field of education and social work. Encashing upon their vast experience and guidance, Prayas started interactive sessions with them. Their continued guidance has always been paramount and enriching and with these interactive sessions Prayas aims to build even stronger peer networks. It’s the patronage of the alumni group that is the backbone of Prayas.
Puzzles and board games like scrabble and pictionary were bought for the Prayas students. Board games are an easy way to develop cognitive skills. It is a fun way to engage kids to team up and work together- something they'll need to do throughout life. Also, few musical instruments (like kalimba, drums, ukelele, kartal, buguchu) were obtained to provide exposure and assist any child interested in playing an instrument.