The COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home orders have exacerbated the challenges of providing affordable quality education in India. In a country where 800 million of the country’s 1.3 billion people live on less than $2.50 a day, many families have limited access to computers and smart phones and the schools serving these low-income communities often lack the technology to pivot to online learning.
Solution and Impact
DFC financing is helping Varthana support the thousands of small affordable private schools that fill the gap that government schools cannot meet, providing critical loans and online learning plans to help these affordable private schools weather the pandemic and stay in business.
Varthana provides loans for schools to invest in equipment, technology, teacher training, and even basic facilities like toilets. When the COVID-19 pandemic forced these schools to close their doors, Varthana stepped in to help them put together online learning plans that would be accessible to families with the most basic phones. By curating lessons that are available online and helping schools organize live online classes and asynchronous learning that could be delivered over low-tech devices, Varthana has helped students in 1,300 schools continue their education.
The schools that Varthana supports typically charge between $5 and $25 per month but risked losing all fees if they could not continue to teach. In a country with a large and rapidly growing youth population, where almost one-quarter of all school-age children are not enrolled in school, this support will help schools that are so essential to helping families emerge from poverty weather the current crisis and potentially emerge stronger with new digital learning features.