Arti Kumari is a class 10th student from the Sakhi village of Riga block in Sitamarhi district of Bihar. Before the pandemic, Arti was leading an everyday life attending school regularly with her peers and studying, but when COVID stuck in March ’20 her daily routine of going to school came to a complete halt due to school closure.
Like other children, she was confined to her home, unable to continue her studies, play with friends or interact with teachers. It was a callous time for her. She was equally disturbed to see the inward migration of people of her community from far-flung areas as they lost their livelihood, and accessing basic necessities became challenging. All this made Arti’s anxiety grow. She was in class 10th and without any books or study material. She had no means to study. Her family being economically vulnerable could not provide her with the means for ICT enabled learning. Gradually she began drifting away from education and got engaged in household chores. She lived in fear that she would have to drop out of school eventually. While fully understanding her daughter’s situation, her mother expressed her helplessness as the family had to prioritize food over education. She said, “Our family is big, managing two square meals is a challenge then how can we afford a smartphone”.
During this time, Bal Raksha Bharat in collaboration with UNICEF launched the “Keeping Learning Alive” project with the objective to support children like Arti in their learning continuity during the crisis. Bal Raksha Bharat’s field team approached children of Sakhi Village to form a Children’s Group. They also informed the children about the resource centre, its features and how it supports children in continuing their learning in the absence of access to any digital platform.
Arti became curious and excited when she came to know that the resource centre will have books to read, creative art sessions and life skills training for all adolescents. She joined the group and started attending classes in the resource centre. Through the resource centre, she came to know about UNNAYAN programme by the government on Doordarshan. This programme enabled her to continue her studies. She attended these classes at her neighbour’s house.
Arti also participates in the storytelling sessions held under the project in her village. She enjoys playing outdoor games organized at the resource centre. She is currently regular with her assignments and is catching up with her studies, which she was unable to do in the last eight months. Arti aspires to become a school teacher one day. Arti is thankful to the programme team for providing her information about the UNNAYAN program. She is very positive and hopeful that she will be able to continue her studies.