Most children still can’t go to school in Kolkata due to Covid restrictions, so Calcutta Rescue is now taking the school to them.
It has converted a school bus into a classroom and earlier this month it began touring the slums every day allowing children aged four to six to begin their education.
Preparing children whose parents may well be illiterate, to enter formal schools is a key part of Calcutta Rescue’s education programme and it currently has 75 children in this category.
These youngsters have already missed eight months of school since all schools closed in March, and without intervention now they risk falling permanently behind.
Older age groups have adapted well to online classes run by the charity, but this age group needs face-to-face engagement with teachers who can make their first steps in education fun. That is exactly what this new project, Education on Wheels, is designed to do using songs, rhymes and fun worksheets.
Currently the bus is spending an hour a day at two slums, but the charity plans to purchase another bus with money raised by the Kolkata Covid Challenge sponsored walk in July to reach more slums and more children.
Calcutta Rescue’s head of education, Ananya Chaterjee explained: “Pre-schools play a crucial role in laying the foundation of the proper psychological, physical and social development of a child. The closure of our education projects that provide early childhood care and education continues to pose threat to their holistic development potential.
“We are maintaining the proper Covid guidelines. At the entry point, children are provided with hand sanitisers. Teachers wear masks and face shields.
“We are also sensitising parents about personal hygiene, personal health, and cleanliness of uniform.”