Qatar’s EAA is helping to empower marginalised children in Indian schools through innovative pedagogies

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Partnering with multiple NGOs, new study modules were introduced in schools in 12 Indian states under IFERB
Education Above All (EAA) Foundation, a Qatar-based global education institution, has been working to empower out-of-school children from marginalised backgrounds in more than 60 countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. In 2019, EAA started its operations in India where it is reaching out to children in remote villages in association with a few prominent NGOs working as their project partners.
With HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser of Qatar being the Chairperson of EAA, the institution has been supporting children in war zones of Palestine and those suffering due to limited resources. EAA in India has implemented innovative education plans under the Internet Free Education Resource Bank (IFERB), which is a universally accessible collection of 500+ cost-free, technology-free, and low-resource repository requiring project-based learning resources, games, and activities. Designed for 4 to 14-year-olds, the project offers hands-on, exploratory, and student-led learning.
Soon after it was implemented in India, the Covid pandemic hit the globe, which necessitated implementation of study modules with readily available material to continue learning amidst disruption. The resources are adapted and contextualised in Indian languages. “The aim is to have project-based, game-based and play-based learning approach to promote contextual and holistic hands-on learning for little children,” says Janhvi M Kanoria, director, Innovation Development, EAA, Qatar.
“Covid pandemic made us realise that children across the world are losing out on education due to lack of internet access and technological devices. We started to provide these children with low-end smart phones, pens, pencils etc to help them study at home. We also focused on hand-holding the first-generation learners whose parents work as farm workers or daily wage labourers,” says Jahnvi.
Since most children have limited resources, these projects help in learning with things available around us. “The learning process helped in initiating intergenerational learning as the children involve their semi-literate parents or their grandmoms in the process. The children use the writing skills, numerical calculations in their daily life, which further fortify their knowledge,” adds Jahnvi, who oversees the Indian operation from Doha.
Prominent NGOs such as Ek Tara, Barefoot Edu Foundation, Mantra4Change, Bharti Foundation and Samanta Foundation have been the pilot partners to reach out to children in Bihar, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Punjab, Manipur, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Uttarakhand and Leh (Kargil). The NGOs reached out to EAA to integrate the educational programmes to have better learning outcomes. The project has so far helped 59,13,496 beneficiaries and is in the process of increasing its reach. In Uttarakhand, it worked with At-risk & Out of School Children and Youth (OOSCY) from pastoral nomadic, tribal, and rural communities.
Besides educating the children, these initiatives have helped the students to understand their surroundings better. “We are operational in 12 states, and the requirements of students are different in each state. We encourage children to use things available around them. For instance, the mic used to call out for azan in a mosque is sometimes used to reach out to children for classes, a single phone is sufficient to pass on the daily lessons through WhatsApp,” says Jahnvi. The results were remarkable which prompted several NGOs to introduce it in the local schools. The play-way method encouraged several dropout students to return to schools to take daily classes, adds Jahnvi.
Mantra4Change, an NGO, reached out to state government-run public schools and now eight project-based learning resources have been created for each grade, which are aligned with SCERT. “The teachers are being encouraged to use the new pedagogies to make the learning process interesting and creative. Several state residential schools are implementing it as after-school programmes,” says Jahnvi.

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