COVID-19: Schools

Location: Italy

The Francesca Rava Foundation represents in Italy the Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos international charitable organisation working at the frontline of emergencies concerning children.

NextEnergy Foundation previously partnered with Fondazione Francesca Rava on two projects in Italy, one in l’Aquila (2018) and one in Sicily (2019). In order to respond to the home schooling requirements brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, Fondazione Francesca Rava established the project SoScuola. The project aimed to ensure that children across Italy have the necessary equipment to be able to effectively undertake their studies from home. Fondazione Francesca Rava estimates that in the Lombardy Region alone, an estimated 31,000 children (1.9% children) cannot follow their lessons from home because of a lack of access to a computer, laptop or tablet.

The NextEnergy Foundation contributed to this project with a donation which enabled the acquisition of 20 laptops and support to be provided to set up the laptops and ensure good broadband connection. The children were identified in collaboration with 668 organisations across Italy.

Location: UK

Paddington Academy is a co-educational secondary school in inner-West London. It is an Outstanding (Ofsted-rated), non-selective Academy with 1,200 students from ages 11-18. However, 36.6% of children are on free school meals and many of the students do not have laptops on which to attend their online lessons during the Covid-19 pandemic.

A study carried out on over 4,000 families in England by the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that children from wealthier families spent more time per day during the Covid-19 lockdown studying compared with the poorest families. Part of this gap was explained by the finding that children from more disadvantaged families had fewer educational resources and parental support for home learning, and were less likely to have a place to study effectively.

In order to address this disparity, NextEnergy Foundation purchased 52 laptops for Paddington Academy. The donation significantly contributed to improving the engagement of students with their online learning and submission of work. For example in May, 23% of Year 7 students were completing and submitting up to 70% of their assignments. This increased to 41% by the end of the academic year in July 2020. For Year 9 students, 28% were completing and submitting over 90% of their assignments, increasing to 65% by July 2020.

Location: India

The Akshaya Parta Foundation (“TAPF”) is an Indian NGO which was originally established to eliminate classroom hunger through the provision of fresh and nutritious meals in partnership with the Government of India and various State Governments. Since its founding in 2000, TAPF’s Midday Meal Scheme has grown from feeding 1,500 children across 5 schools to serving hot vegetarian meals to 1.8 million children from 19,039 schools across 12 States and 2 Union Territories of India every school day*. Their mission is to solve for nutrition, not for hunger, and as an ethos, only vegetarian meals are prepared and distributed.

With the closure of schools across India due to the COVID-19 pandemic, TAPF distributed million meals and dry grocery parcels to vulnerable communities such as migrant labourers, daily wage workers, and the economically disadvantaged. This was done in partnership with a network of kitchens across the country, working closely with the Government and other civic administrations. In addition, Happiness Boxes were provided to children who were previously Midday Meal beneficiaries. These Boxes consisted of dry rations for one month for the entire family + school supplies + hygiene supplies.

With 50% of the budget which had originally been set aside for the NextEnergy Capital Hyderabad (India) office Christmas 2020 festivities and an additional donation from NEF, 1,666 Happiness Boxes were distributed across Nathdwara, a city in the Western state of Rajasthan, India over December 2020 and January 2021.

* 2023 Update: TAPF now serves meals to 2m children across 20,000 schools in India every day, and it recently opened its 67th kitchen.