In response to the current crisis of COVID-19 in Bangladesh, BRAC IED launched ‘Pashe Achhi’ (‘Beside You’ in Bengali), an alternative remote learning model. Pashe Achhi is a telecommunication model, consisting of a tele-counseling component and a tele-learning component to integrate psychosocial support with learning through playful approaches to encourage positive engagement between caregivers and children. Inspired by the success of BRAC IED’s previous work with both the Play Lab and Humanitarian Play Lab models, “Pashe Achhi” shares similar objectives to continue providing learning opportunities for children and a focus on mental health well-being. Despite social distancing measures in place, these tele-conversations allowed 1106 trained front liners to support and stay connected with over 37000 caregivers, children and their families every week.

Through an integrated curriculum developed by 37 trained psychologists and 37 play-based curriculum developers, Pashe Achhi focuses on delivering remote learning opportunities by engaging children in games and activities and provides psychosocial support by practicing telecommunication skills to deliver messages on well-being. Pashe Achhi has been welcomed by children who have responded with enthusiasm and caregivers who feel valued when they hear from BRAC during a time of crisis.

The versatility of “Pashe Achhi” makes it applicable to all our programs and allows it to be facilitated with limited resources, as it enables the facilitators to reach their beneficiaries from the comfort of their homes. At a time when movement and face-to-face learning was restricted, Pashe Achhi made it possible to still reach more than 80% of children in camps and over 90% of our beneficiaries in host communities in Cox’s Bazar as well as other areas throughout Bangladesh.

The development of Pashe Achhi allowed for a huge scope for capacity development at every level in communities. The experts who developed the curriculum and scripts, provided trainings to the field staff to create a pool of trainers to deliver the trainings to the front- liners who facilitated the calls with the beneficiaries. Play Leaders who were already facilitating the regular activities in our Play Labs were already skilled in engagement, communication and play pedagogy. We enhanced their communication skills related to tele-conversations combined with basic psychosocial support to continue providing support to the communities by implementing the methods outlined as part of the Pashe Achhi framework.