Bridging Gaps

After nearly a year of school closures, it’s wonderful to see students learning in Hunar Ghar classrooms once again. For now, only older children are allowed back to school, and they must follow Covid-safe practices.


Providing Primary Education

Hunar Ghar School Reopens for Older Students
Hunar Ghar School has reopened to older students, in accordance with Indian legislation. It is wonderful to welcome about 120 children to school each day. The team are following Covid-safe protocols for the safety of students, staff and the whole community.

Ongoing Provision of Community Learning Opportunities
Throughout the pandemic, our local partner, RBKS, has been committed to remaining in regular contact with all Hunar Ghar students and their families. This engagement is vital to encouraging regular attendance at school as soon as this is possible. Sadly at present, younger students are still not permitted to return to school.

This means that Hunar Ghar teachers are now teaching both in school with older students and holding outdoor classes for younger children. Teachers are also visiting children at home who are unable to attend these sessions and providing them with stationary, activity sheets and library books. The aim is to ensure all children are reached on a regular basis. The actual in person contact time with a teacher is so important and this is the cornerstone of all educational programme work.

“Hunar Ghar School provides all possible support to our children. As the school is not opening, but the education provide through community class by the Hunar Ghar school is very good step. And children are given nutritional support and learning material and taking health care, which is not found in other schools, which makes this school very special. And I am happy that my children are studying at this school.” Hunar Ghar parent

Improving Learning Opportunities
We are always reviewing what we can do better. Towards the end of last year, before older students were able to return to Hunar Ghar, Adhyayan, an expert educational Indian NGO carried out a review of teaching and learning opportunities being offered by the Hunar Ghar team in community settings. Over 75% of enrolled students have participated in community learning opportunities and the team has been keen to understand what is working and what can be improved.

Students, parents, teachers and the school leadership team all participated in the review. A key finding was that the community is pleased that children are being supported by the Hunar Ghar team to continue their education. With the community behind their children and the school, we can build on the learning experiences provided to date.

The team is planning how to better support the individual learning needs of all students. There are greater differences in learning levels emerging within class cohorts. An assessment of all children’s literacy and numeracy skills has been conducted and students will be encouraged to set their own learning goals. Teachers will be supported with training and ongoing professional development opportunities.

Extra-Curricular Activities
It’s not just the classrooms which are coming back to life at Hunar Ghar, the outside assembly area is a lively space as a volleyball net has been strung up and students and staff are enjoying playing together.

Yoga sessions have also resumed and there are plans afoot for a cricket tournament. Other enrichment activities over the past few months have included debating, essay writing and drawing competitions with prizes for winning entries.

Career Guidance Sessions
While learning remains disrupted, the academic year continues and we are providing increasing support to students to help them reflect on their next steps after completing their primary education.

We aim for students to continue their studies at secondary level. Older students are encouraged to reflect on possible employment opportunities and what qualifications and skills they might need to pursue these.

Now that older students are back in school, the team has arranged some career guidance sessions, enabling students to discuss their visions for their futures with a career guidance expert and to work on some personal development plans.

Snacks & Ration Packs
Though older children are back in school, it is against current government regulations to prepare and provide cooked food to children at school. The team continues to give snacks to all students – either at school, at community sessions or at home – so that they don’t feel hungry and learn with some energy. Ration packs continue to be distributed to all students on a monthly basis to make sure all students have access to pulses for protein as well as rice and flour.

Community Health Outreach Work

Strengthening Safeguarding
All Hunar Ghar team members are participating in a remote training course being delivered by Aarambh India, a leading child protection agency in India. The school has a safeguarding and child protection policy in place and team members receive regular training. However, in view of the increase in regular home visits by team members, we wanted to ensure the team feels confident about identifying and acting on any concerns they may have about a child’s welfare.

The course is prompting discussion and exploration of a range of topics and is helping the team to reflect on cultural practices and norms. After the course is completed, the senior leadership team will review the existing school safeguarding and child protection policy and will be supported to refine it further.

Annual Paediatric Health Check
As part of our child health programme, we aim for all Hunar Ghar students to have an annual health check. In February, a team of doctors from Geetanjali Hospital in Udaipur came to Hunar Ghar School to carry out health checks on students. This was an important opportunity to check for any underlying health conditions that may have been passing unnoticed during the pandemic.

Nearly 300 Hunar Ghar students had a full health assessment. Some have been referred for further treatment and others were prescribed medication.

Mobile Clinic Visits
Our team has observed changes in health seeking behaviours over the past year, with community members becoming more reluctant to approach government health services to check about any health problems they or a family member may be experiencing. Our mobile clinic service, which is provided by the Global Hospital and Research Centre, is visiting the community twice a month to help ensure easy access to professional healthcare.

“Primary Healthcare Centre (PHC) is 5-6 km far from my house due to which it takes time to go there and due to coronavirus fear I am avoid to go to PHC, so mobile clinic is boon for us as mobile clinic van comes close to our house, they give good medicines and this medicines works well on our body.” Bakhel community member

Maternal and Infant Healthcare and Support 
Pregnant women and mothers continue to be supported by our community health team members. They are visited regularly at home and accompanied on visits to the Primary Healthcare Centre for vaccinations and ante-natal checks. There is an increased focus on women’s mental well-being as well as advice and guidance on what to expect during pregnancy and recommended care-giving practices.

Improving Secondary Education

Hunar Ghar Graduates
There has been much disruption and uncertainty caused by the pandemic for Hunar Ghar graduates, the majority of whom have chosen to continue their studies at secondary level. These students are now back in regular contact with their teachers and attending their respective secondary schools, with Hunar Ghar team members keeping in touch with them and their families in case of any concerns.

Nearly all Hunar Ghar graduates who choose to continue their studies at secondary level, complete their secondary education. This is a fantastic achievement which means passing exams at the end of Class 10 and then at the end of Class 12 in a chosen subject specialty.

This is the first year that Hunar Ghar graduates have reached the threshold of being able to enter tertiary level education. We are delighted that four of these students have chosen to continue their studies. Two girls have gone on to attend an Industrial Training Institute to complete a two year course in electrical engineering and two students, one boy and one girl, have started three year Arts degree courses in Hindi and Political Sciences. These students are an inspiration for other children following in their footsteps. They demonstrate just what is possible for children in Bakhel when they believe in themselves and when they are supported by others who believe in them too.

We are providing some bursaries to these students to support costs of books and resources needed for their further studies. The students are entitled to Government of India support for their tuition fees and accommodation.

Over the coming months we will be carrying out a survey of all older students who have completed their secondary education, and their families, to deepen our understanding of what factors and motivations are impacting on their decisions to continue or not continue their studies. This will help the team to provide the best possible support, with the aim of encouraging all students to fulfil their potential.

Kshamtalaya Partnership
The Kshamtalaya team has been supporting 252 students enrolled at Mandwa and Jhed secondary schools to access learning opportunities over the past few months. The two government schools have officially reopened and both have been repainted so that the classrooms are fresher and more welcoming. A lot of effort has gone into encouraging children to come back to school and to attend classes on a regular basis again. This includes engaging with families and community leaders to discuss the importance of education.

“I am very happy with the work Kshamtalaya is doing in Covid situation. My son is still connected to learning when there is a huge gap in his education”.
Parent of Class 10 Student

There have been further challenges due to the unavailability of text books and lack of clarity about what curriculum content will be part of the exam syllabus for this academic year. Kshamtalaya team members have been preparing worksheets and notes on topics to bridge gaps. There is once again a particular focus on the needs of Class 10 students who must pass board exams to continue their secondary studies. Science, Maths, Hindi, Social Studies and Political Science are key subject areas which the team is focusing on.

The school leadership teams at both schools have recognised the support of Kshamtalaya team members and this is leading to closer and more effective collaboration for the benefit of students. For example, joint planning sessions to review what syllabus content needs to be covered in advance of the board exams.

Alongside this, there is awareness of the importance of supporting student well-being alongside academic work. At Jhed School, some students have been participating in a three week well-being programme, focusing on resilience, interpersonal and emotional intelligence skills to strengthen personal, interpersonal relationships and personal growth.

Thank you
We are pleased to be able to share our 2019/20 Annual Report which details how your support has made a difference within and around Bakhel. Despite all the additional challenges created by the pandemic, you have enabled our local partners to provide vital services and to continue on our shared journey to achieve social and economic transformation within the community.

Continuity & Support
The World Health Organisation, UNICEF and UNESCO all agree that “continuity of education for children for their overall well-being, health and safety” should be at the forefront of all decisions in relation to school-related public health measures in the context of Covid-19.

The longer term implications of the global pandemic are unknown, but it is clear that children are being greatly impacted by the loss of time in school. We are committed to supporting our partners to safely provide education either in the classroom or in community settings, to keep in close contact with families and to keep a careful watch on children’s well-being.

The future opportunities for these children will be determined by the opportunities they have available to them now for learning and for their social and emotional development.

Every donation makes a huge difference, whether it funds a geometry set, or a high energy snack, a teacher’s salary or a visit from our mobile clinic. Together, we are making sure that children growing up in this community can gain the qualifications and skills they need to achieve their personal visions for their lives and futures.