“Restore Our Earth” this International Mother Earth Day

“Try to leave the Earth a better place than when you arrived!”

Earth Day 2021 will mark the 51st anniversary. Generally, Earth Day is designated a different theme or area of focus each year. Like last year the theme of the day was “Climate action”. The 50th anniversary of Earth Day filled the digital terrain with transnational discussions, calls to action, accomplishments, video instructions, and more. 

This year, the theme of Earth Day is “Restore Our Earth”. 

While Earth Day went digital this year, our goal persisted the same. We got to line up the nation and put up with the most significant actions to practice.  

Mostly, Earth Day events vary from river cleanups to disposals of intrusive elements. With social distancing still in the niche for many of us this April, Earth Day has gone digital again. Digital events, such as environment conservation speeches and films, will take place on Earth Day (Thursday, April 22). 

When was the first Earth Day? 

Earth Day was founded by the US senator and environmentalist Gaylord Nelson in 1970 to highlight the importance of sterile air and pristine water. An event was organized that saw an astonishing 20 million people across the US taking to the streets making it around 10 percent of the Country’s population. The significance of the theme is all about curtailing the hazardous footprint and remedying the destruction we’ve already made. 

Nowadays, children are not attentive towards the earth and the environment around them. This is becoming lethal for them day by day. The celebration of Earth Day is important for every one of us, to understand and value the resources the Earth provides us with.

While utilizing sources of the earth we must take care of the factors that affect the earth due to our negligence. It is possible to recover the Earth by engaging our young minds in this process. 

Here are some relaxing ways to celebrate Earth Day with youngsters in 2021:

1. Online cooking, Essay, or Debate competitions: Universities and schools can organize some virtual events. Children usually do not value the environment. Of all the Earthy resources, they need to reflect on the importance of investing their time and effort to make sure that they conserve resources for their future self.

2. Even preschoolers can start discovering environmentally-friendly habits. Set up a sorting depot with three containers: garbage, compost, and recycling. After a meal, kids can be asked to sift their stuff into the containers. 

Where do milk boxes go? How about banana peels? Talk about what recycling is and what is compostable, and how we can reuse it? Kids can learn about sorting trash while fine-tuning their motor skills. 

3. The logical way to build fondness for nature is by getting out there and enjoying it. All you need for an outdoor scavenger hunt is paper, a pencil, and a clipboard, which are easy and fun. 

How can we organize it? 

Instruct children to find some things that are found naturally around us. 

Here are some items for your scavenger hunt: 

  • Three kinds of leaves of different shapes each
  • A flower of specific color or kind
  • A steady rock 
  • Something to climb, like the Banyan roots 
  • A feather of any animal usually found around them) 
  • Some fruit to eat 
  • Something that scents well 

If you store it in place, you can still go on an eco-friendly virtual field outing and find out what everyone collected. 

This is how we can engage the children without any hefty expenses and with productive learning on this day.

Written By:

Isha Sharma


Online Education: Boon or Bane

Considering the kind of situation we are facing globally, education plays a vital role as it forms the very base of any nation. It is credible for the financial, civil, and political expansion and development of society in general. Anybody can attain the success they want if they have the power of pedagogy and relevant skills. 

Do you even know, according to UNESCO’s data about our country there are about 12 million children who do not go to school? 

And post the pandemic, we have no data that reflects the true picture about the number of children devoid of educational resources even after being enrolled into schools. It is largely because the entire virtual ecosystem that educational institutions have scaled up to has left many stranded.

After a lot of struggle, society has a new way of learning that is Online Learning. The situation of the pandemic heightened the value of online education. It is a form of learning that is possible only through gadgets like mobile phones, computers, laptops, and such. Apart from the gadgets, one also needs to have some stable internet connections. 

POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF LEARNING ONLINE:

Online education puts forward some encouraging advantages for students: 

1. It has the flexibility in keeping pace with lessons. 

2. Through online learning, there are no commuting or parking conflicts, and it maintains social distance. 

3. Students find the compliance of assignments susceptible and helpful. 

4. Children are more inclined to learn with peer groups, share their challenges and even conflicts! 

But like every coin has two sides, there are certain disadvantages to it. 

1. Virtual learning may forfeit the face-to-face relationship between the educator and students. 

2. The children miss out on connecting with the topic in real-time that were taught using traditional methods of teaching. 

3. To find access to the essential technology is problematic, and the availability of necessary technical support becomes questionable.

 4. Also, some officials and educators who do not understand the workload may illustrate a negative attitude toward online education, which further demotivates the students.

Is online Learning the Future of Education?

Online teaching is here to last for a long time. Many students prefer the online classroom since it offers flexibility and comfort. With the accumulation of information and knowledge, students must become lifelong learners in today’s world. Here, virtual education plays a significant role in assisting someone to be a self-learner. 

With enhanced software, hardware, and Internet access, more options to acquire knowledge become handy. As a student becomes more familiar with technology, the future of online education will continue to grow. The online degree programs will become more widely accepted as they become a more common practice. 

What is the future of online education in a country like India? 

In developing countries like India, the internet is still not a commonly available possession for millions. The urgency of online schooling during the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown has brought before us the strong difference between the urban class students and underprivileged students, who do not have smartphones or internet connections to bear up with online learning. 

In the slum areas, many children borrow a phone from their neighbors. Some families have smartphones but can not afford to buy internet packages. The children are dependent on a borrowed phone to attend an online class for a couple of hours. All these children face this kind of hardship daily, and we don’t have any solution for it. 

What can be the solution?

E-learning requires a strategy upswing from the government.

Universities and Boards are blown by the break in the academic year due to the inequality in the distribution of infrastructure and are surveying for options to attain their yearly curriculum. 

1. Introducing and integrating these solutions will certainly be a challenge for India. It is hence essential that the Government, in conference to all state governments and stakeholders immediately roll out a detailed policy that lays down the fundamentals of e-Learning. This will fill the gap in the existing system of education by providing necessary infrastructure in the nooks and corners of the nation.

2. Referring and Adopting policies of different countries and surveys to pinpoint the real challenges are needed. The institutions should focus on practical solutions rather than hypothetical assumptions to make education accessible.

3. To formally collaborate with ed-tech firms for e-learning. To help the children learn using all the new technology-based modules by which they can easily understand the concepts online.  

4. Incorporating Public-Private Partnership for free internet connections using India’s vast IT hallway and technological prowess can enable the populace and private area to roll out e-learning solutions and fasten the method through its deep hierarchies of telecom services which will help students in linking the gap and time lost due to the outbreak. 

As education is vital for every child and each child has the right of having it, we should take the necessary steps to ensure it remains accessible. Every measure to simplify the system and create an ecosystem that empowers the children with equitable resources has to be worked for.  Rather than blaming the Government, we should help others by extending the help that we are capable of.

By- Isha Sharma

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An act of Kindness can transform someone’s life

Written by: Riya Singh

Standing with people is sometimes more important than standing up for them.

Sometimes, our actions contradict our intentions because we get torn between what is right and what can be the solution for a particular situation. UPAY volunteers faced a similar dilemma when they came to the rescue of Payal. 

Payal is an ordinary-looking 10-year-old girl. The only thing unusual was her irregularity in class. One day, a teacher from UPAY got a call from her. She narrated how her father had beaten her and had cast her outside her home. 

She has been living alone on the streets of Gurugram for the past 10-15 days. She faced extreme difficulties during this time. And this called for immediate action by team! UPAY does have Presiding officers at all our operating locations who are trained to handle cases like these.

Our team approached Child helpline services and the Police department to help the little girl. “When we reached Payal’s house, we spoke to the elders and found that the family had a long history of physical and mental abuse,” said our team who found both the parents mentally unstable which makes it difficult for them to take care of their four children. 

That day, Payal was rescued with the help of police and sent to a shelter home. But like other children, she too wanted to live with her parents and younger siblings.

Despite being abused when the Child Welfare Committee asked her where she wanted to live, Payal told them that she wanted to go “home”. As per child rights, nobody can isolate the child from their parents. And thus, Payal was dropped at her home. The Police authorities warned the parents of stricter action and routine checks at their home. From that day, UPAY has been in touch with the family, ensuring the safety of Payal and her siblings. 

But the ordeal wasn’t over for Payal and her siblings. Extreme neglect resulted in a maggot infestation behind the left ear of her 1-month-old baby sister. UPAY volunteers interjected and, this time, the baby was taken to the civil hospital for treatment. They gave her a few medicines and sent her back. 

Our volunteer administering medicine to Payal’s sister

On our subsequent visit 2 days later, the situation was still not under control. The volunteers took her to two different hospitals, but both the hospitals refused to admit her. We sought help from Dr. Kunal, an avid supporter of UPAY, who asked for her to get admitted to Chacha Nehru Baal Chikitsalaya and gave her proper treatment. Within a week, the baby recovered and, the infestation subsided.

Thanks to the timely interventions by not only the volunteers but even our generous supporters that Payal and her family were able to receive adequate help in terms of physical, emotional, and monetary support.

It has been more than three months since these incidents, and normalcy is returning to Payal’s once-extremely abusive home. 

Such acts of kindness apart from regular Teaching and Learning relations that we have with our children and the entire community helps us establish an impactful relationship and create a ripple of change.

We at UPAY hope that many more children like Payal receive timely help and lead a fulfilling and secure life in the future. 

Understanding the nuances of National Education Policy 2020

Written by: Sayani Kundu

As soon as the National Education Policy amendment has been announced, it became the talk of the town. The government had initiated for an “inclusive, participatory and holistic approach, which takes into consideration expert opinions, field experiences, inquiry, stakeholder feedback, further as lessons learned from best practices”. The policy claims to supply promising results. However, what’s the reality of the situation? 

Does the policy effectively provide accessibility of education to the underprivileged section? 

Efforts to attain universal primary education has become threefold over the last decade. Although the units are accessible, they’re characterized by the need for multi-grade classroom management as a result of low enrolment, few teachers, and shortages of teaching and learning resources. This frequently ensues in poor educational quality, high rates of drop-out and low rates of retention. 

The National Education Policy (NEP) of 2020 divided schooling years into several sections with program outcomes specified for each level. It talks about target discovery, preparation, abstract thinking and multidisciplinary learning. 

Before jumping to accept the NEP, we must take a deep dive into the current challenges that India’s education system faces at the grassroots level.

What are the challenges?

The challenges include

  1. Enrolling the children from urban slums and rural areas into schools
  2. Retaining students, especially the girls, in schools
  3. Enabling teachers to deliver the NEP-imagined curriculums
  4. Building sufficient infrastructure and providing technological assistance
  5. Delivering the committed education budgets to implementing authorities
  6. Ensuring that each educated Indian is employable. 

The important thing to consider here is to ensure that the new policy does not exacerbate the present educational divide between the marginalized and the privileged, and the rural and urban children.

Since there’s a severe dearth of trained personnel, the NEP relies on Anganwadi workers, who are already overburdened with numerous public health responsibilities for delivering quality ‘Early Childhood Care and Education’.

The education system of rural areas has had much room for improvement — yet, the numbers show disappointing results. According to the District System for Education (DISE) data, only 53% of total government schools have electricity connection. In the total numbers, only 28% of schools have a computer while a mere 9% have an internet connection. The proportion is further low for government schools in rural areas. 

The digital revolution and the new policy might change the face of urban education — however, rural schools might continue missing out on the suggested benefits. 

With 70% of India’s workforce residing in rural areas, it is this population that will form the bulk of tomorrow’s workforce. Infact, according to NITI Aayog, half of the overall population of the country is predicted to be living in rural India by 2050.

The lack of teachers, proper infrastructure and the ever-increasing income gap raise the question about the feasibility of the NEP. The need of the hour is the execution of operations that will kickstart the desired development in the rural areas than the implementation of a policy that only benefits the cream of the society. This is why NGOs like UPAY strive harder every day to work with communities at the grassroots level to increase literacy and awareness of their rights.


Interactive teaching for Virtual Classrooms!

By Sayani Kundu

The adverse effects of the pandemic have been visible in all walks of life, including education. Schools across the world closed in the wake of the pandemic, resulting in new challenges for academicians. The teachers and students who were accustomed to the offline modes had to adjust to the totally unknown and unconventional online mode of teaching.

Although this sounded like a frightening task, teachers have employed the technology and resources at their disposal to support online learning and guarantee top-quality education.

Students interacting virtually

It’s imperative to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all strategy in teaching. Different people have different priorities, and therefore, the resources that are in use are context-dependent. Teachers have also been adopting varied approaches for students with special needs and disabilities as well as for students without access to high-speed internet.

All over the globe, educators are taking a step back to concentrate on what matters the most — and prioritizing the creation of an open channel of communication with students and parents is a vital start. Keeping kids engaged and taking care of their psychological state is of utmost importance in the virtual mode as well.

At this juncture, interactive teaching via audio-visual aids comes in handy. Teachers and instructors have redesigned and repurposed their content through discussion threads, e-books, and curated lists for online delivery. One of the most notable advantages of this is the rise in the diversity of thoughts and informational sources, indicating quality learning.

Students presenting a model made during Monthly Virtual event Spardha

Times are tough and change is unpredictable. Adapting to the constant change is the only way to sustain one’s morale. For education to thrive, academicians should improve their strategies and optimize the standard of learning for their students.