Over the last 4 months, the world has been busy fighting a global pandemic and as of today, India has been under complete shutdown for almost 8 weeks. More than 90000 cases have been found in India and close to 3000 people have lost their lives, but you probably know that already.
Charles Eisenstein starts his essay The Coronation with a provocation. Charles asks, “For years, normality has been stretched nearly to its breaking point, a rope pulled tighter and tighter, waiting for a nip of the black swan’s beak to snap it in two. Now that the rope has snapped, do we tie its ends back together, or shall we undo its dangling braids still further, to see what we might weave from them?”
Arundhati Roy gives us some historical perspective and leaves us with another provocation in her essay, The pandemic is a portal. She says, “Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”
At Simple Education Foundation, we have been navigating our way through this pandemic, constantly mindful of these provocations, constantly seeking to understand the consequences of tying the ends of the rope together and of undoing its dangling braids to see what we might weave from them. As an organisation, we have realised that there is no one way out of this pandemic and hence we broke down our response to COVID19 into 3 essential parts.
Repurpose and Respond
As a part of our immediate response, we are ensuring that our children and educators are safe, both physically and emotionally. Our team is relentlessly working with educators and parents to ensure that learning continues for all our children and that we are able to support their academic and social-emotional learning needs, thus making true holistic education available during the pandemic. At the same time, we are working to create wellbeing spaces for our educators, through Wellbeing Circles and conversations with them and also equipping parents with simple easy to do home activities that will take care of their emotional wellbeing as well.
Our parents and educators are our biggest assets and this pandemic has given us an opportunity to engage with them more deeply. We are already seeing incredible engagement from our parents and educators. Our children are constantly learning and sharing their learnings with us.
We are also working with a group of partners to ensure that our children and their families have the essential supplies that they need to support themselves during these tough times. We have partnered with several organisations including Wipro Foundation, Feeding India and Yellow Streets to ensure this.
We have made all our resources, academic and social-emotional learning, available for free at bit.ly/SEFtoolkit.
Recapture and Shine
Navigating Arundhati Roy and Charles Eisenstein’s provocations demand that we engage in redefining the world we live in and start putting together the new world that we want to walk into. At SEF, we have always dreamed of a world where all children are equal, a world where they nurture deep relationships with everyone around them, a world where they live in harmony with complete alignment of their head, heart, hand and souls in service of all beings.
We have hence turned our focus into preparing for school reopenings and for future challenges like this pandemic. Our research team is putting in a lot of work and research to ensure that we have a set of robust practices that will enable us to navigate through school reopenings and future challenges, while also giving us the tools to build out a new world with our children.
Breathe and Survive
Our final focus area is our own team, ensuring that our team members are safe and supported during this pandemic. We are ensuring that every team member is supported and has someone to talk to, we are also engaging in regular team calls and fun WhatsApp exercises, some of us are even working out together to keep the motivation going. I must add here that I have been overwhelmed with the enthusiasm and the commitment that the team has shown during these tough times, I am extremely privileged to be a part of such a powerful team.
Call To Action
You can play a pivotal role in ensuring that we are able to continue the work that we are doing with our children, their parents and educators. A contribution from your end towards The SEF Learning and Relief Fund will ensure that all our children have access to basic essentials and continued educational support throughout the pandemic. You can also share this with your family and friends and help us reach the target as soon as possible, every penny and every share counts.
I hope we are able to build a new world together because the upcoming generations will never forgive us if we do not act now and change what has been wrong all this while. #WhatIf this is our only chance to change the world, for the better?
If you would like to make a donation, please click here.
Mainak is the Co-Founder and CEO of Simple Education Foundation, a non-profit organisation based in India with a mission to transform public schools by improving teaching and learning practices inside them. He is deeply interested in understanding and building high performing teams, and is obsessed with the idea of culture driving growth and effectiveness. Prior to starting Simple Education Foundation, Mainak worked with Teach For India (TFI) as a Fellow and then as a Program Manager in Mumbai and Delhi. Mainak is also an Acumen India and Wipro Foundation Fellow.