In a semblance of a school, five children aged between five and eight years entered a small two-room house in Trilokpuri, carrying bags full of books, to attend classes. They start and end the one-hour session with “namaste didi”. The didi is 35-year-old Dayawati.
Mother of three and a School Management Committee (SMC) member of MCD School, Trilokpuri, Block 6, Dayawati decided to help children from nearby areas with online classes in August. Prior to that, the children were unable to study as they did not have smartphones and internet connection.
She explained that government schools send out two worksheets every week — one for children from classes I to V and the other for those from classes VI to X. She guides students with the worksheets, which she receives on her phone, and then helps them submit them at the end of the week.
With a smartphone in hand, Dayawati’s day is all planned out. In the morning, she helps her children, two in class VIII and one in VI, with their studies. Once they are done, five younger children come in.
“It is a refreshing change from housework. Since they are younger children, it is not so easy to handle them. I help them maintain distance and ensure they come to class with their masks on. On top of that, they have forgotten everything they had learnt previously as they did not attend classes for so long,” said Dayawati.
Seven-year-old Lav, one of the students, said: “I could not attend online classes because my father takes the big phone (smartphone) to work. Since I did not go to school for many months, I have forgotten the multiplication table… now I am re-learning it.”
Vaishnavi, also aged seven, said, “I prefer going to a real school because we can play there.” However, the five children agreed that attending classes is better than staying home. During their free time, some of them assist their parents in taking care of younger siblings, others watch cartoons and some study.
Dayawati, who has studied till class X, said, “I try to clear their doubts. I helped my children with similar homework when they were younger. Besides English, I am comfortable with all subjects.”
NGO Joint Operation for Social Help (JOSH) has been encouraging SMC members to help children in need. Jyoti Mahore, field manager, JOSH, said, “In the last two months, 30 such makeshift classes have sprung up in Trilokpuri.
While some of them are run by SMC members, others are run by volunteers. Anyone with phones and mobile recharge can help children. Attendance has also gone up since these classes started.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines