Alisha Kazim Shaikh is a Xth grader at the Malwani Municipal Secondary School in Mumbai. In an effort to be financially independent and support her family of seven, Alisha has been doing a vocational course on beauty and wellness. Her aim is to open her own beauty parlour. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she had to attend her classes online. This was a major hurdle for her, as her household has only one smart phone – which belongs to her father, who carries it to his work place, making it impossible for Alisha to attend her classes.
The Salaam Bombay Foundation, an NGO, which assists financially needy children with education, collaborated with Amazon to give a tablet to Alisha. This enabled her to attend the beauty and wellness course as well as her school. Alisha now practices facial, clean up, manicure, and pedicure at home.
Reducing the digital gap
Alisha is one of the many beneficiaries of our efforts in supporting fellow citizens during the difficult period of COVID. Over the last one year, we have been able to help students from across the country to build their future. Today, we build on that by announcing the launch of ‘Delivering Smiles’ initiative, alongside the Amazon Great Indian Festival 2021. The program will enable customers to experience the joy of giving and participate in the company’s objective to reduce the digital gap. Amazon will directly provide 20,000 digital devices to underprivileged young people, in partnership with over 150 large and small non-profit organizations, impacting over 100,000 students across India. Of these 150 organizations, 100 non-profit partners will be selected basis internal employee nominations as part of Amazon’s volunteering program. Additionally, customers are encouraged to either contribute in cash on Amazon Pay or give their old mobile phones that will be refurbished and distributed to provide digital learning devices for young people.
Education without disruption
As the COVID19 pandemic forced students to stay home and attend their educational classes online, a larger number of students from underprivileged families were in deep trouble, as they lacked access to internet or/and electronic devices to view online content. In fact, quite a few teachers noticed lack of enthusiasm in academics and low confidence among their students during this time – not just for those in schools but also in colleges, especially professional courses.
In 2020, Amazon India's Tablet donation campaign, in association with NGOs like Peepul, American India Foundation (AIF) and Bala-Vikasa helped kids continue their education. We have been able to help many, like 10-year-old Aarav, a fifth grader from a low-income family in Delhi, who was struggling when the schools closed – because his family only had a keypad phone. He approached Khushii, an NGO that works for child welfare, to help him with access to education.
Khushii is one of the numerous NGOs Amazon India has collaborated with, to find the most deserving students – hardworking, disciplined, and responsible - who can make the best use of the mobile devices we provide for free. Together, we ensured that Aarav got a Tablet, through which he now attends virtual classes for two hours every day.
When earning and learning continued
The situation of families dependent on daily wages was so dire that many students, like Anitha.P. (15) from Bangalore, had to deliberate between pursuing education and earning a livelihood. Anitha’s parents work as daily wage workers at construction sites. During the time of pandemic, Anitha herself was working at construction sites to support her family. She had no educational interaction as the family’s financial situation does not allow them to have a smartphone. With the help of Tablets provided by Khushii, now Anitha and her brother Devraj (who is in 10th grade) both attend school and even excel academically.
Researching & learning new skills
The 6000 tablets we provided last year have been observed to enable students to learn consistently. This not only includes students from government school but also students from Engineering, Nursing, and Commerce colleges, who have used the Tablet not just for attending classes, but also doing online research and submitting their assignments. Many have even used the Tablets for remedial tuitions, taking online tests for practice, building their general knowledge, and learning new skills from platforms like YouTube.
Thanks to Amazon, I got the tablet which has helped me get 100% attendance in classes.
M.Swathi, an Engineering student who has been supported by the Bala Vikasa NGO since the age of 10, says that she was most worried about attendance during her online classes. “The students with below-par attendance are not allowed to appear for the exams. Since I don’t have a smart phone, I was worried that my studies will have to take a break and I may not be able to cope again. But thanks to Amazon, I got the tablet which has helped me get 100% attendance in classes now.”