i-Saksham Education and Learning Foundation

Partner From
09/30/2018 - On Going

https://www.i-saksham.org/


Supported by: Wipro

About i-Saksham

i-Saksham Education and Learning Foundation has the mission of ‘building community edu-leaders to enrich education experiences of underserved children for continued success.’ The idea of i-Saksham has its origin in the experience of its founders as Prime Minister Rural Development Fellows working in two left wing extremism affected district of Bihar, Jamui and Munger for 3 years. We witnessed that while the discourse is around existing educational inequity at school education level, not much discourse was around what it leads to in terms of inequity in life chances for youth of these areas. Our experience also taught us that such resource-constrained areas have one common resource in abundance and that is the power of youth to affect the existing systemic challenges positively.

Approach

i-Saksham runs a two-year fellowship program which is a mix of a B. Ed. program and a youth leadership program focused on aspects such as philosophy of education, pedagogy, youth leadership, community engagement, use of technology, and an understanding of self. During the fellowship, fellows teach primary grade students for 5 days/week (2 hrs. every day) in local government schools and attend one-day weekly sessions of 3 hrs. on weekends.

Location: i-Saksham is currently working in 10 blocks of four left-wing extremism affected districts of Bihar i.e. Jamui, Munger, Gaya, and Muzaffarpur. Among these, three are aspirational districts.

Impact of COVID

No program got closed in the year 2020-21. COVID has taught us many things as an organization, and one of the key learning of the experience is to be future-ready. In 2019, we had made a shift from learning centers to schools as part of our future vision. But, when the schools got closed for a longer period, returning to community learning spaces appeared to be the most effective choice. COVID restricted access to even these spaces for almost the entire last year.  After an initial period, we began building on approaches that could help us serve the children and in this time of difficulty the community immediate needs, and finalized on some key areas. We had successes and failures in each of these intervention areas, strengthening our learning, making us reflect and think on our approaches from a larger systemic change view point.

Approaches during COVID Lockdown

Reaching to children through non-smartphones and audio sessions: We knew that many of our children don’t have access to smartphones. Hence, we designed our sessions, which were thematic, promoted discussions, and could be facilitated on non-smartphones. This was not easy and the biggest bottleneck was non-availability of phone numbers. We had three rounds of parents’ survey, which gave us a platform to reach out to nearly 200 parents each time, which helped us get a better understanding of their needs during COVID and helped us in serving them better. This was also the first time, when we were approached the parents on this scale with such a channel. In partnership with Mantra4Change, we came as a collective to plan projects for the children. One central idea was to engage these children in projects, which they can do in their homes, and many of these required the child to engage with their siblings and parents.

We collaborated with Pradan and JM Financial to assist the delivery of basic needs for returning migrants. We used our resources to create a database for all these migrants, which helped both the organizations to deliver support better to more than 1000 families.

Post Lockdown Approaches

One of the ambitious initiatives during this period was ‘Shiksha Saheli’ project, as 6 different organizations came together to work in a common geography, each bringing their own expertise to serve the children. These organizations were i-Saksham, Mantra4Change, Involve, Meraki, Karunodaya, and Mahila Samakhya. The design of the program was very similar to i-Saksham fellowship. We learnt a lot from the program both in terms of how we see partnerships and factors, which can help us leverage these most effectively. The program ran for 6 months in two different geographies (Gaya and Muzaffarpur) with young girls and women who were members of Mahila Samakhya groups and taught children at their learning centers. With time, the other partners have exited the program but we have continued with our 6th batch of fellows.