A Direct Report from GoPhil partner Vikalp Sansthan. (4-minute reading time)

Vikalp Sansthan has worked in 510 villages in twelve districts of rural Rajasthan in India since 2003 with the aim to eliminate gender-based violence against women and create violent-free societies based on equality, justice, and peace. Vikalp has always been focused on delivering analytical attitudinal change to youth with the help of adopting a four-fold strategy: community awareness, make stakeholders accountable, help women and girl survivors, and advocacy.

Vikalp staff responded immediately to vulnerable communities during the complete lockdown in India. While responding to the community with essential groceries including masks, soap, and sanitary pads, Vikalp has also noticed that school-aged children including boys and girls were busy doing nothing except household, farm work, and cattle grazing because the schools were closed for unknown periods. Parents were worried about their studies. They were looking for the platforms with the support of which children could continue their studies. So, the idea of setting up Learning Centers came under deep analysis in view of the urgent community need. That is why Vikalp decided to open learning and education centers in the rural villages to end child marriage, child labor, and school drop-outs.

Learning & Education Centers

In response to Covid-19, Vikalp established Learning & Education Centers in 17 locations across Udaipur, Mavali, and Gogunda blocks, where children from marginalized and low economic communities come to continue their studies, even under the complete closure of all government and private schools. All of the 17 villages have been selected on the basis of the highest possibility of children dropping out of school, as well as analysis of the increasing likeliness of child labor and child marriage.

Vikalp intends to keep vulnerable children connected to their studies, recognizing that ongoing access to education will minimize the expected increase in rates of child marriage and child labor through parental pressure.

Youth Fellows (Young Community Leaders)

Moreover, Vikalp elected youth fellows from the same communities where there are learning centers so that they can take ownership in their own villages. Vikalp has dreamed of social transformation and the source of it will be children and Youth Fellows who will be empowered, socially aware, analytical, community care builders, motivators, leaders, skillful, gender-sensitized and so much more. We have already completed a 4-day Capacity Building Training with all 17 Youth Fellows and they are being digitally empowered by Zoom calls twice each month. They are now very familiar with the Zoom app and its processes. Moreover, they prepare their own monthly action plans, keeping joyful learning in mind. We have screened several arts, crafts, and other talents taught to children by fellows.

More than 500 vulnerable children in the age groups of 10 – 14 and 15 – 18 are currently continuing their education at Vikalp Sansthan Learning & Education Centers.

“We focus on ‘Joyful Learning’ for children and we are involved with several organizations that have helped us by providing radio programs, video films, and resource materials. These days children are learning by playing, painting, and learning English with the help of video dialogues.”

Safety & Parental Involvement

Each Learning Center has been given packets of soap so that each day children can wash their hands and learn the good habits of being neat and clean. This also helps make the centers germ-free. We also provide masks to every child, while also overseeing proper social distancing to create a touch-free environment to meet Covid-19 safety and security demands.

Every month, each Youth Fellow also conducts meetings with parents, where they present the children’s learning and outcomes. Most of the parents go for jobs and meet in the evening, so Youth Fellows conduct meetings per each parent’s availability.

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