During the pandemic, educators and learners both faced various challenges in delivering and accessing learning. Despite the bleak scenario prevailing during the pandemic, there were learners, educators, parents and policymakers who came up with innovative solutions to ensure that the learning process continued. To bring the stories and experiences of these individuals on a common platform, the curtain raiser to the Quest 2 Learn (Q2L) 2021, Quest 2 Learn stories and songs was organised on 29th July, 2021.
This year, Q2L is hosting a series of dialogues, webinars, and panel discussions on emphasising the relevance of self-learning to enable a successful school to work transition for our young people in a world struck by the pandemic and other such uncertainties. The three key thematic strands for Q2L, this year, are facilitating a self-learning environment; equity and inclusion in future careers, in a world of pandemic and environmental crisis; and systems change to strengthen collaborative action in the education and employability sectors.
A series of songs based on the principles of ‘Nirgun (without any properties) and Nirbhay’ (fearlessness) was performed throughout the webinar. Educators, learners, parents and CSO partners, government and industry bodies attended the webinar on 29 July.
Facilitating a self-learning environment
Amar Prakash, a parent from the Patori block in Bihar, shared that he conducted surveys in his community, which found that children were demotivated due to prolonged school closure. He engaged the children in his community, by taking them to farms and gardens, and by using art forms. Amar also worked closely with other parents and older children to facilitate a self-learning environment. This story was motivating for all the audience in the webinar.
Another inspiring story of self-learning was shared by Sachin Kumar, a grade 9 student from Bihar. When the pandemic hit and schools closed, Sachin was unable to access learning and education. However, he took steps to enable learning for himself and his peers. He took a few important steps in this regard. First, he used the Anandshala Resource Center to access the Unnayan App to continue his learning. Then, he began the Gaon Bana Vidyalaya initiative, where he engaged young students in learning from his village through art and play. Sachin’s friends started similar initiatives in their own communities after being inspired by him. At the end of sharing this story, Sachin called out all young people to share their skills and knowledge with children in their communities to enable continued learning.
The stories above are based on the theme of ‘Facilitating a self-learning environment’. It will engage with a new narrative that shifts power to learners.
Equity and Inclusion.
Soni Marandi, an educator from Jharkhand focused on the theme of equity and inclusion. Being a survivor of early, child marriage herself, Soni is now a Girl champion in the Anandshala programme who, advocates against child, early and forced marriage in her community. During the pandemic, the amount of unpaid care work substantially increased for young girls. Soni facilitated virtual sessions with these young girls to motivate and support them to continue learning. While school closures persist, Soni’s recommendation is that alternative learning spaces be provided to ensure that young people, particularly girls, continue to have access to learning during the pandemic.
The theme on ‘Equity and Inclusion in future careers, in a world of pandemic and environmental crisis’, in Q2L, will explore the new employability trends, rise of new career opportunities and greater prospects for financial independence, amidst lack of access to resources and opportunities for growth, cultural barriers related to gender, caste and economic status. The current century and the changing economic and workplace trends exacerbated by the pandemic brings a range of opportunities and challenges for the youth. Successful school to work transitions are contingent on equipping them with the right skills needed for the 21st century.
Systems-change to strengthen collaborative action
Dr Avinav Kumar, State Project Officer, Quality Education from Jharkhand, spoke about how a blended learning approach would be needed to ensure continuous learning during the pandemic. In Jharkhand, the Education Department formed Whatsapp groups where teachers and block facilitators were added. These WhatsApp groups were able to reach out to over 15 lakh children. The Department also reached out to parents to orient them on how to guide their children on learning during the pandemic. While these measures were successful in ensuring that learning did not come to a standstill during the pandemic, Dr Kumar recommends that a blended mode of learning is needed to reach children who do not have access to digital devices. He also stressed that children have the ability to self-learn; they just need teachers to act as facilitators and guides.
Systems change to strengthen collaborative action in education and employability, as a theme in Q2L, will explore enhanced engagement with government systems, policymakers, policy and budget influencers in order to co-own the agenda on systems change. There is a need to continue the discussion on self-learning to enable a successful school-to-work transition and hear from a diverse set of stakeholders. In order to fulfil the objective, Quest Alliance organised a three-day summit from 25th to 27th, August, 2021. The conversations featured educators, learners, CSO partners, government partners and officials, funders, and industry representatives, centered around themes such as emerging patterns with COVID-19 and its implications for education ecosystem, role of education technology in self-learning environments, and the future of work and successful transitions for India’s youth.
Read more about the 2021 Q2L Summit here. Watch this space for videos of the sessions, coming soon!
The Q2L Songs & Stories event featured music by Vedi from The Aahvaan Project, and live storyboarding (graphic recording) from Tanvee Nabar at Ladysfinger. Watch a recording of the Q2L Songs & Stories event here.
Advocacy Manager, Quest Alliance.