Scrap Collector’s Daughter, Thireya Devi, Wins Award At A Robotics Competition

Thireya DeviMeet Thireya Devi, a Grade 9 student of Thiru Vi Ka Corporation Higher Secondary School, Madurai. Her father, a scrap collector, faced livelihood loss with the lockdown. Thireya, a beneficiary from AIF’s Digital Equalizer (DE) program, is an outstanding student at the robotics sessions conducted by DE in her school. She was chosen to participate in a national level robotics competition, where Thireya and her team won the ‘Rising Star’ award. Her father expresses both, happiness and anxiety, saying “We are happy that she won this award and certificate. I feel worried if I would be able to educate her beyond this.” Watch this video, produced during the AIF-NDTV campaign, to rebuild the lives of migrant workers.


For over three months now, 1.6 billion schoolchildren worldwide have been out of schools, leaving parents, teachers and children themselves grappling with the uncertainties of remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. It resulted in several challenges on the ground for AIF’s flagship education programs, Learning and Migration Program (LAMP) and Digital Equalizer (DE): Schools Closure

  • Students: Lockdown forced the closure of schools and this resulted in interrupted learning for students. Schooling provides essential learning and when schools close, children are deprived of opportunities for growth and development.
  • Teachers: When schools closed, teachers were unsure of their responsibilities and how they could maintain connection with their students to support learning. There was confusion and stress, especially with transitions to tech-enabled classrooms and distance learning platforms.
  • Parents: This was an uphill struggle as parents were asked to facilitate the learning of children at home, especially for parents with limited education and resources. Parents were unprepared for remote learning and home schooling.

AIF’s education programs have been quick to adapt to these challenges. In the mid-term and long-term, both LAMP and DE plan to:

  • Leverage teachers and communities: LAMP and DE are adopting inclusive methods of remote learning, by working closely with teachers, project staff, and communities. Community sensitization on the importance of education will continue, with a focus on continued investment in education.
  • Slow down the growing digital divide: Never has the gap been more glaring between the children who have access to technology and learning tools and those who do not. In geographies where digital access and the internet is available, AIF’s education programs are ensuring that students receive the necessary digital skills.
  • Embrace appropriate remote learning: In contexts where digital solutions are less accessible, AIF’s education programs are considering low-tech and no-tech approaches. To reach the most marginalized, reading and writing materials are being sent to homes, through project field staff and a circulating mobile library.

We are only just beginning to understand the impacts of Covid-19 on children’s education. In low-income families that are facing economic hardships, many parents are, in all likelihood, considering the financial and opportunity costs of educating their children. As governments and schools plan to re-open in the Covid era, AIF’s programs are prioritizing activities that will protect the gains made in learning outcomes.

Join AIF in its efforts to rebuild the lives of migrant communities affected by Covid-19. Support the AIF-NDTV Campaign #RebuildingLives  #AIFCovid19Response

As Director of Communications and Advocacy, Rowena Kay Mascarenhas holds the global responsibility for overseeing the development and implementation of AIF’s marketing, communications, and advocacy strategies across the Head Office, Country Office and Regional Offices.

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