Victims & Warriors in the COVID War

By Ujwal Thakar – Chairman of the Board. Educate Girls
Every one of us is going to be a victim of the COVID War, if not the illness, it brings, it will certainly be the taxes, increased costs, inflation, emotional drain etc that it brings that will affect us in multiple ways but some segments will be way more affected than others children from underprivileged backgrounds and especially the girl child will to my mind be the most vulnerable and the most affected of the 320 million kids in the Indian schooling system at least 200 million will be severely affected. Besides the learning losses, a school is a place for both food, physical and emotional security for these kids and that has disappeared overnight. The government helpline has reported as many as 92000 calls from children reporting abuse and these are still early days of the lockdown. I shudder to think of how much worse it is going to get in the coming days but the good news is there are warriors who have jumped into the fray and are using all there experience and resources to combat the potential terror for the kids. I have the proud privilege of knowing some of them and being associated with them.
Safeena Hussain the founder of Educate Girls who has an army nearly 2000 employees and 12000 volunteers tells me that she has never been as busy in her life in the lockdown. She has used technology to stay in touch with her troops train her employees and volunteers remotely to cope in the post COVID world and more importantly in ways of preparing the children they work for for the new world  more importantly on ways and means of bringing happiness to them or reducing their stress in these very difficult times ..the “Child protection plan”
The training was created, curated and delivered remotely by Million Sparks Foundation, founded by 2 IIT computer science PhD s Dr Mona & Abhinav Mathur in record time to thousands and that’s definitely going to bring relief to hundreds of thousands of kids in the Educate girl world in MP, Rajasthan and UP
The other big or really the biggest warrior Pratham  Rukmini Banerji and her team have made the content they have created over last twenty-five years available to all and that includes 3000 videos 300 games and 3 learning apps in eleven languages available to all. In addition, they have started a WhatsApp engagement activity with children called “ Toodi Masti Thodi Padhai” which will bring relief and happiness to millions of kids. Rukmini wrote to me asking me to share with all NGOs who are interested so all the many entrepreneurs in my friend list do make use of it.
And finally, over the past one week I have engaged extensively with Abhinav Mathur of whom I spoke earlier of his plans in Million Sparks foundation who already have a mobile platform for training teachers and helping them teach not just the NCF framework but newer innovations in education like digital citizenship, social-emotional learning, life skills etc and they already have 250000 teachers engaged across the country he has ambitious plans for using mobile tech and platforms to start children classes in the lockdown and as he says fulfil their right to education the plan includes retooling old useless mobile phones to convert them into classrooms. They have a design solution for building pedagogy for any learning old or new and he demonstrated that by building and delivering the “ Child protection Plan” training for Educate girls in a weeks time. Unlike the other two biggies ( Pratham and EG) Million Sparks Foundation is still young and does not have ready access to resources though he is a powerhouse with over twenty-five years experience in building new tech. Need urgent support to raise 5 crores which can transform the lives of the 200 million most vulnerable children in this wretched COVID world.
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