The inclusion of environmental education and awareness among students from a young age helps them make better choices in their everyday life and encourages students to conserve the environment. Under HPPI’s education initiatives, environmental education is incorporated in schools for students as well as for future teachers training under the Necessary Teacher Training Programme.

During the ongoing lockdowns across the country, when schools are closed to stop the spread of the COVID19 infection, Shahil Kumar, a Grade 6 student of Government School Andhra Chauki in Bihar took it upon him to visit his school with his brother and water the saplings that were in the garden set up by him and his classmates. The school being a stone throw distance from Shahil’s house is readily accessible. The garden set up in Shahil’s school is part of the Improved Nutrition through Fruit Garden (INFG) Project implemented in his school along with 83 other schools and 5 District Institute of Education and Training across 4 districts (Patna, Nalanda, Vaishali and Arrah) in Bihar and one district (Ranchi) in Jharkhand.

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The aim of the project is to instil awareness in students about the importance of plants, how to take care of them and how planting trees is one of the easiest ways to combat global warming. The students are learning to take care of the trees they have planted and enjoy the fruits the trees bear helping them develop a habit to protect the environment.

Shahil who is is also a member of the water committee and Bal Sansad (Child Parliament) at the school, took the initiative to take care of the plants and kept them alive in spite of the school being shut for months. His motivating efforts prove that our efforts towards holistic education go a long way in instilling a sense of responsibility from an early age.

In 2019-20, 2400 trees were planted and 12 kitchen gardens were set up under the INFG Project, contributing to the 163,539 trees planted this year across various project initiatives of HPPI.

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The sudden announcement of lockdown across the country to tackle the spread of COVID-19 has had a profound impact on everyone. This was even more so for students and teachers at educational institutions who found their daily activities and interactions – all linked to the crucial aspect of transacting ceaseless education – suddenly come to a grinding halt.

The feeling was not much different for me and my student-teachers in the Necessary Teacher Training Programme (NeTT) being implemented at the District Institute of Education and Training (DIET), Nalanda, Bihar.

Improvisation, however, is inherent to human ingenuity. One can say this is even more so for teachers and teacher-educators for whom surmounting a new challenge is almost a daily activity.

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Conducting remote classes is integral to the NeTT Programme. With the announcement of lockdown, the NeTT team of teacher-educators, in consultation with the DIET faculty, decided to leverage the existing technological tools to start the classes and ensure there is no loss to the student-teachers.

The start was made with the most commonly used app: WhatsApp. It was readily available on the phones of almost all our students. We made two groups on the app, one for the first-year students and the other for the second-year batch of students. The interactions slowly began to pick pace with increasing ease of participation and sharing of content and assignments, though, needless to say, we all missed the usual dynamism of a regular class that we were used to.

As the days under lockdown continued and Zoom videoconferencing app started becoming a constant refrain, we decided to use the platform to help with synchronous learning and conduct more interactive classes online. Student participated in these classes with much enthusiasm. As soon as we learnt about the flagged security issues with the Zoom platform, we switched over the Google Meet platform. With the experience of Zoom classes, the students were able to transition to Meet with much ease.

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Understandably, with video classes, we could definitely observe that students’ participation increased substantially. They were asking more questions and were generally more involved in the sessions.

Simultaneously, the NeTT team set up a Google Classroom profile for each batch of students. This platform made the posting of tasks and courses more streamlined while also assisting the team of teacher-educators with an assessment of the tasks completed. The teachers regularly posted subject-specific videos, study material and instructions for tasks which were accessible to all the participating students.

Now, a dedicated evaluation sheet has been made to check the progress of the students. In line with the practice of the NeTT Programme, online ‘Tracking our Progress’ sheets are also made by students to help them check their own progress on each task. 

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One of the most interesting observations from this platform has been the increase in students’ participation in helping each other in their tasks and also during the class sessions. This is a seamless progression of the group learning method followed in the NeTT Programme where smaller functional groups of students take charge of the progress in their learning.

We are as excited as our students with the manner in which they have taken to this new medium of classes and we are sure the process will help them adapt to the new normal as they graduate and engage with primary school students.

India, just as several other developed and developing nations, has been promoting digital literacy and ICT-based education for the last few years. HPPI’s Digital Classroom Project being implemented in Chhattisgarh aims to create a technology-enabled learning environment where a student’s learning of concepts and interaction with the teacher is supported through the strategic use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). However, with the nation in lockdown and schools and universities closing down as a response to the COVID19 pandemic, digital education has seen a sudden upsurge in India.

Since March 2020, several schools and colleges are continuing giving lessons via Google Classroom, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and other such platforms. Several schools located in remote or rural areas with limited availability of electricity and internet are using WhatsApp to stay connected with their classrooms. With this new way of teaching and learning, digital education is becoming more relevant in the present times.


Students and teachers now have groups where they exchange notes, queries and finish tasks. In HPPI’s Necessary Teacher Training Programme, 2 online classes of 1½ hours each are being conducted every day for the 1st and 2nd-year students so that they are able to continue learning and finish their D.El.Ed. course in time. The teachers send study tasks to each batch and provide feedback to the 85-90 students who attend these classes everyday through various messaging and video conferencing apps. The student-teachers are completing their training through this e-learning course with full guidance from all 13 faculty members. However, access to requisite hardware remains a challenge. As many as 64 NeTT student-teachers could not participate in these classes due to the lack of computers, smartphones or the internet.

The issue not only limited to rural areas. Recently, it was reported that around 9,000 Class XII students registered for the Delhi government’s online classes, though there are 1.6 lakh children in its schools.


As beneficial as digital education is, there is also a prominent digital divide between the urban and rural students in terms of devices, access to the internet and even availability of electricity. Only 36% of the Indian population has access to the internet, according to the India Internet 2019 report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India and Nielsen. However, the access is not uniform with 27 percent in rural areas and 51 percent in urban areas getting access to the internet, according to the same report.

Students across the world are today using educational apps more than ever before. Teachers are promoting the use of educational technology including online learning, texting and group learning to support access to learning during this global pandemic. But, as the world is swiftly shifting to online teaching, students without access to broadband are the ones who could be left behind.

In an effort to promote the use of digital education, the Ministry of Human Resource Development has shared various free e-learning platforms that students can use to continue their learning during COVID-19 based school closures. Some of the platforms, such as DIKSHA, are also available for use offline, while apps like e-Pathshala by NCERT offers content material for classes 1 to 12 in multiple languages including Hindi, Urdu, and English.

The picture you see is of eight-year-old Sangharsh Kumar, onboard a train that will take him back to his native residence in village Gohana in Uttar Pradesh. Sangharsh’s father has been a factory worker in Ghaziabad for the past 10 years. Like lakhs of other children belonging to migrant families who are travelling back to their hometowns, Sangharsh’s family, too, is affected by the COVID-19 lockdown as his father has lost his job.

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Loss of livelihood equally translates to a loss of access to quality education for the children.

Lack of awareness, poverty and missing identity documents are some of the reasons due to which children of migrant families remain deprived of education. Same was the case with Sangharsh.

“Since the economic condition of my family was not good, I could not get a chance to get admitted to a school,” he says.

Sangharsh and his sister, Khushbu, were identified during a survey of out-of-school children conducted by Humana People to People India (HPPI) in Karkar Model area of Ghaziabad, following which they were enrolled in the organisation’s Kadam Programme for out-of-school children.

Pointing the efforts made by Anjali Rawat, a Kadam teacher, Sangharsh goes on to tell how he finally got enrolled in the Kadam programme in May 2019.

“During the survey, Anjali madam convinced my parents and helped me and my sister to attend the Kadam Centre. At the Centre I learnt to read and write along with various other interesting things through a number of activities I participated in with my classmates. Each day, I would look forward to going to the Centre for what was new in store for us and to meet my friends.”

With the COVID-19 lockdown, however, many things changed.

“While the Centre was closed, on Anjali madam’s suggestion, I kept continuing my studies at home and helped my sister every now and then,” says Sangharsh.

“Anjali madam was teaching us online via WhatsApp. Through video calls, madam would solve all my queries related to the exercises in the Kadam books. She even encouraged us to attempt some theme activities under my mother’s guidance which both of us quite enjoyed.”

The unique toolkit provided to children as a part of the Kadam Programme enables them to study at their individual learning level and progress at their own pace.

While on his journey back home, as he continues to work on the exercises listed in his Kadam workbook, Sangharsh is also anxious about internet availability in his village so he can to connect with his teacher on WhatsApp.

“Now we’re heading back to our village. However, I would like to continue my education and, also, keep supporting my sister in her education,” says the determined boy.

Nearly 83,000 out-of-school children have been a part of the Kadam Programme since the year 2016, and have been assisted with guidance and appropriate tools to close their learning gaps so they can be integrated into age-appropriate regular classes in formal schools.


On March 24, a 21-day lockdown was announced in India to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The announcement came with a lot of queries, but with it came a lot of chaos and havoc among the thousands of people who come to find work in the cities or who work as daily wage labourers, dependent on their day’s income for their next meal.

In a crisis like this, it is often the poor and vulnerable communities who face the most impact. Migrant families in thousands started fleeing the cities, beginning their journeys of over 200-300 kilometres to their hometowns by foot and without any food or money to sustain them.

In these trying times, Humana People to People India aims to continue working and help those in need, especially the poor and vulnerable communities who are suffering due to loss of income under lockdown.

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In our attempt to do so, every project leader started by ensuring the safety of their team members and the beneficiaries in their projects. Students in the Kadam Step-Up Programme, women entrepreneurs in our Community Development Projects and Health Clubs, homeless TB patients, preraks (learning facilitators) in our adult literacy programmes, among others were contacted via mobile phones and was made sure they were safe and had the right information – the do’s and don’ts, helpline numbers, awareness on the signs and symptoms of the virus etc.

Along with sharing informative posters and government helpline numbers, the project staff continues to stay connected with the beneficiaries via mobile phones, available for any of their queries or assistance needed.  

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During this time, the teams also analysed and evaluated the needs of the most vulnerable communities and found that several families did not have the money to buy food or shops to buy them from. In addition, migrant families without ration cards could not access the benefits of government food distribution schemes.

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Teams across HPPI projects are now organising the distribution of food to some of the poorest families made possible through donations from individuals as well as some of the corporate partners and in many places in close cooperation with local government authorities. HPPI has so far been able to reach out to more than 2000 families under our projects in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Haryana, West Bengal and Karnataka. Around 14kg of ration is being distributed to each family consisting of flour, rice, pulses, oil, soaps, toothpaste, among other essentials. They will receive similar care packages twice in the coming 15 days. HPPI’s team members who are working tirelessly in the field are maintaining all precautions and following regulations laid out by the government.

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In the education projects, students and teachers have found innovative ways to continue teaching-learning, keeping in mind the initiative launched by UNICEF, “Education can’t wait”.

Under the NeTT Programme, study groups have been made in social messaging apps which allows students to share their work as well as raise any queries with their teachers. Similarly, online classes have also been conducted via video calls.

We have a long way to go but we ensure we are doing our best and we hope to continue to raise funds and help the people in need during this health crisis. If you wish to support our cause, please visit

About HPPI

Humana People to People India is a development organization registered as a not-for-profit company under section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956 as of 21st May 1998. It is a non-political, non-religious organization. Its mission is to unite with people in India in order to create development in the broadest sense through the implementation of the projects that aim at transferring knowledge, skills and capacity to individuals and communities who need assistance to come out of poverty and other dehumanizing conditions.

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