Education has been a major thrust area of the Urmul group of organisations since the beginning. From being a major part of government schemes supporting literacy and universalisation of primary education like Shiksha Karmi Yojna and Lok Jumbish to launching most successful educational programs like Marushalas and Balika Shivirs, the focal point of our work has always been Education. With the changing times and as per the need of the hour we are continuously evolving as an organisation to reach children in full capacity and ensuring their education in these difficult times.

COVID-19 has resulted in schools shut all across the world. Globally, over 1.2 billion children are out of the classroom. As a result, education has changed dramatically, with the distinctive rise of e-learning, whereby teaching is undertaken remotely and on digital platforms. Keeping this in mind we surveyed and discussed among the community members about the availability and accessibility of internet and smartphones in the remote hamlets of western Rajasthan. After receiving the data and feedback, DRC planned and designed the Samshiksha program with the support of URMUL and Malala Fund. We have launched focused interventions to enable technology facilitated learning and education service for children with special focus on girls of the remote regions of Thar desert and integrate them with a formal distance education platform. The project SamShiksha is being implemented across 4 districts of western Rajasthan including Bikaner, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Nagaur. The programme will work towards facilitating child education, empowerment, and bridging the technological gap.

Digitising Textbooks in the Desert

  • DRC devised the implementation strategy of the program, planned various community mobilization workshops in different districts that need to be organised before kick-starting the project and finalised the specific locations where it should reach.
  • DRC has provided huge technical support in developing the Learning Management System by engaging with the resource person and through various meetings, discussions, and conversations with the technical team we are creating a platform and dashboard which is student friendly and easy to access.
  • We have been continuously working towards bringing the convergence support from other stakeholders. For example, SPARKS workshops have been organised in three different locations, Lunkaransar, Bajju and Pokaran, where we discussed about the challenge of child marriage with different stakeholders from the community. One of the major reasons behind this is high school dropout rate and lack of knowledge of reproductive health and hygiene. Different ideas and solutions came up through these workshops that will help us further in designing other programs around education.
  • We are in conversation with Mr. Renar Berandi who has years of experience working with Plan International in South East Asia in the field of disaster risk reduction in education. We are working towards building a model desert school and through studying and applying a comprehensive school safety framework we are set to develop a customized framework for desert ecosystems where extreme weather conditions makes education inaccessible.
  • During the two day annual forum of DRC Maru Manthan, diverse ideas from educationists, industry experts and thought leaders came out about how we should proceed in the education sector in this pandemic. We are working towards multi-sectoral partnerships on how we can collaborate with other entities for ensuring the outreach of education to all the children. There is a dire need to address all the issues like social norms, poverty, menstrual health and hygiene,etc that are keeping the girls out of schools.
  • DRC’s huge bent is on getting resources for knowledge management. Through field visits, interviewing the young girls and community members we get to know their real life stories and struggles. Knowledge documentation in terms of booklets, reports, articles, blogs,etc is undertaken by the knowledge team of DRC.
  • We have envisioned building up a Desert Education Resource Center (DERC) with the objective to create an environment of joyful learning and eliminate educational inequality in desert Rajasthan. Our presence in Bajju includes a library, resource centre, computer lab, school, training centre and fellowship programs. We ensure that children receive education and at the same time build dynamic young leaders.