COVID-19 PANDEMIC RESPONSE
The Indian Government prevented schools taking fees from March to June due to COVID-19 school closures. While this helped families, it also had an impact on teachers’ incomes, despite their continued teaching efforts.
The Principle of the school has expressed her deep gratitude that UnitingWorld continues to support the school financially, especially at this time.
During COVID-19 lockdowns, education moved to at-home learning and Project activities adapted so 193 students could continue to learn. School exams for class 10 and 12 showed that students have been performing really well during COVID-19.
If families are vulnerable during COVID-19 then children’s education and well-being will greatly suffer. So our partners made sure students received food and hygiene kits (including masks and hand sanitisers) to reduce community transmissions of COVID-19.
The foothills of the Eastern Himalayas are steep jungle-covered terrain, with families mostly eking out a subsistence livelihood. To get to school, children may have to walk up to four hours through jungle tracks. The dropout rate is very high, especially among girls, and contributes significantly to human trafficking.
We supported our partner church to build a small school in a remote mountain village, enabling boys and girls from neighbouring hills to access good, affordable education. We continue to support this school to provide affordable education to families, train teachers and pursue government accreditation.
In 2020, we support 193 children between Grades 5 to 12 and provide funding for teacher training.
In addition to a global pandemic, challenges this school community face include a staggering remoteness, lack of access to health services and facilities and an aching poverty. Children still need to walk long distances to school along challenging terrain, increasing the potential for child trafficking due to vulnerability. Natural disasters and monsoonal weather during the wet season led to a very large landslide 150 metres from the edge of the school.
Together, we are helping our partners address these issues by strengthening the school and local services.
Since this project started, attendance at the school has increased from 117 to 193. Thirteen teachers have been employed and classes have increased to Grade 12.
We also helped develop a Diocese-wide child protection policy that applies to churches, youth groups, Sunday schools and schools. School staff have been involved in regional workshops that enhance the school’s understanding of child protection, disability inclusion, education and project management.
Church of North India – Diocese of Eastern Himalayas