Written by Momina Abid,
As soon as my co-Fellow Aqeela and I established contact with most of our students post school lockdowns, we began sending pictures of worksheets and video/ audio lectures to students through WhatsApp, and would receive a response right away. However for those students who only had SMS accessibility, we couldn’t rely on multimedia and had to type up longer descriptions of content which wasn’t as engaging for students, Predictably, the quality and rate at which assignments were submitted varied substantially.
Almost fifty percent of our students were lagging behind, so my co-Fellow and I decided that the most feasible option would be to design ‘Learning Packs’ that we would deliver directly to our students! We decided that the Learning Packs would have assignments form both of our subjects i.e. English, Maths, Science, Social Studies, and would contain a mix of content from their current curriculum and their next grade’s curriculum, to help keep kids on track for when schools reopen.
With the Packs designed and ready to be printed, we had only one more obstacle to overcome; How were we going to deliver the packs to the students during the lockdown? Both Aqeela and I had returned to our respective hometowns and due to the lockdown, most door to door delivery services were unavailable. Our only hope was to identify someone in Islamabad who would be willing to print, compile and deliver the Learning Packs to the village where most of our students lived.
We had exhausted our network of contacts, but ultimately, my co-Fellow Aqeela identified someone who was willing to take up this huge responsibility. This individual understood what was at risk for these students, and knew that with each passing day, students were falling further behind their digitally advanced counterparts. Within two hours of receiving the Learning Packs by email, this individual had printed and compiled each one of the 82 copies!
To plan for the next phase of distribution, I reached out to those few parents in our student’s WhatsApp group and asked if any of them were available to receive the 82 copies of Learning Packs. Once we had a parent volunteer, we instructed them to pick up the copies and drop them off at a local shop in the village where students could later collect the packs. We called each and every student and made sure they had collected their copy. So, just like that, within 24 hours of designing and delivering the Learning Packs, my students had access to 2 months worth of homework that would help them revise concepts from the previous class and prepare them for those in the next one!
As word got out of this initiative, demand for Learning Packs among student from other classes grew and this time we were able to mobilise our resources and network of community members even better. We couldn’t have successfully distributed our Learning Packs if it wasn’t for the swift and positive response from these individuals, all who shared the single belief that internet access should not dictate the opportunities of learning available to students. They trusted our leadership and believe in our abilities as teachers to make quality learning easy and accessible for those who need it most.
Momina Abid and Aqeela Muheen are 2019 Fellow who teach 4th graders in a school in Jagiot, Islamabad. Their subjects are English, Maths, Science and Social Studies.
Momina graduated from LUMS with a degree in BS Economics and Aqeela graduated from QAU with a M.Phil Enviromental Sciences.