Jayanti Mandingi, of Patamanda in Narayanpatna Block in Odisha, is a Class 12 student in Arts. She has a creditable achievement as the only girl of her village to have successfully completed Class 10. Her parents, Godru and Kone Mandingi are small farmers and daily wage labourers in the mountains. Their earnings are insufficient to meet the needs of 6 members in their family. Jayanti is second daughter among the 4 children. Education gets a lower priority in this area where Kuvi, a language with no script is the mother tongue. It’s a challenge for children to study in Odiya medium from their lower classes.
After returning from her school, she rushes to her role as the Teacher-cum-Facilitator of the Mind-to-Read Centre of Operation Sahay Foundation in their village. This is one of the 12 village-centric learning centres established by OSF. The centre has a library and regular brush-up classes are conducted for children to retain their reading, foundational math and concepts. The schools are shut owing to Covid-19 for many months. A Feb 2021 report by Azim Premji Foundation observes the detrimental impact – School closure due to COVID-19 pandemic has led to complete disconnect from education for the vast majority of children or inadequate alternatives like community-based classes or poor alternatives in the form of online education, including mobile phone-based learning. Equally alarming is the widespread phenomenon of ‘forgetting’ by students of learning from the previous class – this is regression in their curricular learning
Jayanti is clear why she took up this challenge of teaching even when she is a student – “my brothers and sisters were without any guidance, nobody were there to take care of their academics and schools remain closed. This compelled me to help them. By the same time OSF has given a scope for it, so I wanted to use the opportunity for the betterment of our children.” She adds “In the beginning I was scared of this work, but now I am comfortable. This is also an avenue to develop myself. Before teaching I have to prepare and I get to read many books now. Through this work my knowledge and outlook is getting developed.”
The honorarium she is getting from OSF is a great support for her own education as well.