AISA, a project hosted by a set of philanthropist minds, is using a social media platform, WhatsApp, to continue the learning progress for children aged 3 to 6, in the premise of the pandemic. AISA, which stands for Activities for Improving Skills and Abilities, is an educational project by Rotary Puttur Elite in Dakshina Kannada. Speaking to News Karnataka, the Service Director of Rotary Putter Elite Club, Mounesh Vishwakarma, expressed his thoughts on his brainchild.
The pandemic posed a lot of challenges to educational institutions across the country. While elementary and higher education adapted to the online method, learning for younger children, prominently primary schoolers, faced a setback. AISA aimed at bridging this gap in learning for such enthusiastic children through the engagement of activities that would help with their holistic development. Speaking of the beginning of the implementation of the project, Mounesh Vishwakarma explained that they made 4 groups with a local Anganwadi Worker as an admin. Then, all the interested parents were added as participants in the WhatsApp groups. So far, around 400 parents are active members benefitting from the AISA project. “We started with putting up videos of two activities per week, on Tuesdays and Saturdays. The video would also describe the benefits of the activity. We wanted the parents to watch the video and make their kids engage in the activity. Our purpose included parents trying the activity and sharing the video on the group to be interested in participating in the same. We received positive responses. The parents effectively looked after their children and made their kids do the activity right after posting the demonstration video. Fifteen days once, I inquire among the parents about the children’s development or effect of the learning. I am pleased that the parents and their children are enjoying the project’s work,” Mounesh Vishwakarma asserted.
Some stumbling blocks
In conversation about certain difficulties faced during the project process, the Service Director disclosed that when the groups were created on WhatsApp, a lot of participants started personalizing the group chat. Minor tiffs seemed to be inevitable. “In those situations, we alerted them with warnings, reminding them that Anganwadi workers are also present in the group. We suggested that from then on, except for messages concerning the learning course, there should not be any goodnight or good morning messages spammed in the group,” he added. Since then, reliable cooperation has been received from the four groups. Besides these issues, internet connectivity problems and lack of technical knowledge put some parents on the back foot. “The moods of the children are not stable. Hence we have advised that the parents always look at the child’s attitude before administering the activity,” he said.
Interesting revelations were made when parents provided their feedback on AISA. One parent asserted that if her child is not engaged in the activity, she begins to shout, indicating that the children have started to recognize the activities and respond to them. Children have learned to jump, identify vegetables and shapes, learn English alphabets, and tell a story. “Parents’ positive feedback was the right motivation we needed to continue implementing this project. The Anganwadi workers also affirmed that there is much potential and progress in these children. They supported the parents. We were thinking of pausing the project. But the parents assured us that they’re happy about their children’s development since they’re acquiring extra learning through the activities. However, now we are sharing just one exercise per week,” Mr. Mounesh claimed.
Learning does not stop
The Service Director informed that children became open to learning during the lockdown, primarily through games and play, as they paid more attention to their parents. Staying home created a bond, an attachment with their parents. Hence, the activities suggested by AISA through WhatsApp groups proved to be as effective as possible because of this attachment. Through the activities, children successfully had better physical fitness through exercises; they learned essential word identification and letter formation. Their language growth increased given the high grasping power at the age of 3-6. This was all possible with AISA’s objectives with the help of the Anganwadi center.
Speaking of AISA’s goals, Mr. Mounesh affirmed that a long-term plan was already drafted when AISA was first launched. “Initially, we planned to keep this project active for 6 months, from August to January. Due to certain administrational issues, we started it a little late, from 20th September. Coronavirus’s second wave posed its challenges for us. As of now, we have been active and uniformly putting out activities in the WhatsApp groups. Certain teachers from Anganwadi have also shown their interest in helping us with the project. We expect it to benefit as many families as possible,” he signed off.