Last week, India's Prime Minister, Narendra Modi extended the nationwide coronavirus lockdown until at least the 3rd of May. This is a deeply worrying and uncertain time for Muktangan and the teachers, students and the wider community it supports. We bring you an update from Muktangan in India on what Muktangan has been doing to support the teachers, students, parents and the community it serves during the Covid-19 lockdown period.
Muktangan receives no government funding. Its work is funded entirely by voluntary donations. The current lockdown restrictions in India are impacting the lives and livelihoods of underprivileged communities particularly hard, including Muktangan teachers, students and their families. It is more important than ever that Muktangan receives the financial support it needs during this time.
Muktangan's Co-CEOs Dymphena Dias and Keshav Satose tell us how Muktangan is continuing its vital work throughout the lockdown:
“While the lockdown is a great step to contain the spread of the Coronavirus, it also has its fair share of challenges. We are deeply concerned about the health and safety of our students, teachers and their families. Many of our teachers and students live in Worli, in mid-town Mumbai which is also where our schools are located. Unfortunately, this has been declared a hot-spot for COVID-19.
While we need to be physically distant, being socially connected and in touch is more important for our teachers and students than ever before. We are working really hard to keep our teacher training and schools running online. Those who are currently with us on our Pre-Service Teacher Education programme are receiving their course content via video calls, and their assessments will be conducted digitally. Through our ongoing English Proficiency classes for teachers, and mobilising the resources amongst our school leadership teams, we have also put together a Mentor Network to provide the socio-emotional support that they truly need at this time.
Our school leaders have created class-wide WhatsApp groups. We’re really proud to report that we have been able to stay connected with 3,235 students, which represents 86% of our student body. These WhatsApp groups give students a platform to remain connected with Muktangan, and with each other, which is hugely important in supporting their mental health and wellbeing. Students are so thrilled to see and hear their friends and teachers – it makes them feel cared for and connected. Parents have expressed their appreciation and gratitude to the Muktangan staff for taking this initiative, showing their care and concern for each Muktangan student.
With the extension of the lockdown period, most of our teachers and parents are struggling more than ever. Many of our teachers come from families where the other wage earners are now unable to work and therefore earn any money. Our teachers' salaries have been vital in keeping those families going over this difficult period and at times even allowed them to extend a helping hand to their friends and neighbours. For some it is not just a financial struggle but also lack of access to basic commodities. We have put them in touch with other groups and organisations that are distributing food and groceries to the areas that have been sealed.
The adversity and the challenges we are facing in the current crisis reaffirms our belief in quality education as the only sustainable path to escape the vicious cycle of poverty and hardships faced by a large section of our country.”
During this challenging time, we ask you to please consider donating to Muktangan today. The support that Muktangan India is providing to the communities it serves is especially valuable in these unprecedented and hugely difficult times. Your donations, which help to enable and maintain the work of the Muktangan schools and their teachers, are more important than ever.
Every £ given to Muktangan via the UK Trust, when converted into Rupees, goes a very long way in India. All donations are very gratefully received.