Quest Alliance Annual Report 2020-21
To say the world was at sea, in choppy waters in 2020 would be an understatement. As a global community, we experienced searing anxiety, uncertainty, grief and loss. Closer to home, the wellbeing of our people - our staff, partners and the communities and young people we work with - was our primary concern and focus. In the midst of this tempest, the Quest family was unmoored by the passing away of Abhijeet Mehta, our Chief Operating Officer.
It was a deep personal loss for the organisation. Abhijeet was instrumental in bringing our shared vision to life, and in building the organisation to where it stands today. For me personally, the loss of my closest co-traveller of the last 20 years has taken a huge toll. In these dark times, navigating everyday and strategic decisions without being able to lean on Abhijeet’s wisdom has been extremely challenging. His presence, eye for detail, analytical prowess and professionalism was a guiding light for us all.
While coming to terms with this loss, we also had to adapt to the changing FCRA and CSR laws, which required us to go back to the drawing board and re-plan the nature of our partnerships with civil society organizations. As a result, we had to take on more operational work through partnership with various organizations across the country. This increased the administrative and operational load on our teams, and added significant time to the replanning of our work.
The second wave of the Covid19 pandemic and ensuing lock downs hugely impacted the well-being of our learners, educators, partners and team members. We observed a drop in adoption of digital learning as compared to the first phase, with fatigue setting in and the need for human connection becoming more apparent. Young people were getting involved in their communities to lead change and provide support to their peers. Our teams focussed on responding to the needs of learners and educators with innovations like a mobile library, an online facilitation course, and the use of interactive voice response system (IVRS), hackathons and chatbots to bridge the gap they perceived. We also brought together our technology, data, as well as systems under a digital transformation roadmap to accelerate our journey towards becoming a more data analytics-oriented organization.
As we make sense of the last year, I fall back on chaos theory that discusses self-organization in terms of islands of predictability in a sea of chaotic unpredictability. Chaos theory states that, within the apparent randomness of chaotic complex systems, there are underlying patterns, interconnectedness, constant feedback loops, repetition and self-similarity. The butterfly effect, an underlying principle of chaos, describes how a small change in one state of a nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state. The impact of all that happened in 2020 will only be visible in the next few months and years.
Yet through it all, the creative spirit of our learners, educators, partners and teams has been our lighthouse - giving us hope and clarity. We have been there for each other through these difficult times, expanded our empathy and become more humane. The future is going to remain unpredictable, but what we are certain of is that as an organization, we will need to be prepared for difficult times that lie ahead. For this, we will draw inspiration of resilience, responsibility and learning from the constituencies we serve.
CEO, Quest Alliance
2021: A Year at a Glance
Quest’s learner-focused programs are designed to foster and build 21st-century skills among young people by bridging key gaps in the School-to-Work continuum.
Rooted in the practice of Self-Learning and powered by ed-tech, capacity-building, partner collaborations and advocacy, our aim is to create impact that changes lives.
The Anandshala program transforms government schools into inclusive spaces for joyful learning, rooted in 21st century learning skills. Building capacity among local change leaders within the education system, it equips them with technology and tools, creating an enabling ecosystem to support and scale their work.
34,773 students in Bihar and Jharkhand
The Secondary School program helps build a STEM mindset among girls and boys in secondary schools. It encourages them to dream of futures free from gender stereotypes, where they become creators of solutions to issues most relevant to them.
1,36,288 students reached across 7 states and 909 schools.
14 state government partnerships and 1 central government partnership
Training of Trainers partnership with Department of Skills Development and Industrial Training (SDIT), Haryana. Implementation partnerships with Karnataka state DET, Kerala state ITD and Delhi DTTE.
Continued partnerships with Future Right Skills Network and Directorate General of Training (DGT) of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE)
Continued partnerships for the schools program with 8 state education departments. MOUs with OSEPA in Odisha and the SSA in Assam have enabled wider reach to schools in both states.
With safety and wellbeing as a top priority in 2020, several strategies were developed to ensure all employees had the tools and support they required under the difficult circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic. Several measures were enacted to enable a better WFH experience, while robust safety protocols helped ensure the safety of employees. Counseling services, flexible working hours, and virtual employees engagement sessions were also organized to boost wellbeing, while a support group for women was created to provide a safe space of support and solidarity.
Learning under lockdown was encouraged, with learning days, spaces and courses being freely available to employees.
204 Team Members
70% women in senior leadership roles
53:47 Male-female ratio