COVID-19 second wave shatters dreams of children as many have no access to online classes

Online Education is good, but it shows the digital gap. Inclusiveness is needed in drafting schemes and solutions.


(Representational Image: Unsplash)

 

The dreams of schoolgoing children are badly affected by the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. In India, most of the educational institutions shut down at the beginning of March 2020. Children and parents thought schools would open after two or three months. But even after a year, the schools remain closed. Also, some schools that did open are being hit by the new wave of covid spread.  Due to the second wave of Covid, all the schools in the country were announced closed, and class-X exam cancelled in all states and class-XII exams postponed in the country. Most probably, class-XII exams may be cancelled due to Covid, many states have taken strict measures and partial lockdown to tackle covid.

Lakhs of people have lost their lives due to Covid-19, and it is also killing the dreams of many students who want to study. We had witnessed the massive movement of migrant workers across the country last year. Many workers with their family and children walked barefoot and with half-closed fatigued eyes. What happened to these children? How many of them continued their education? Their parents lost jobs, so many of them are going to jobs without completing the studies.

According to the 2011 census, 10.1 million children engaged in labour or seeking work. UNICEF’s 2015-2016 data showcased the dropout rates in our country. It reported that 8.5 per cent of children drop out before finishing primary school. More government educational initiatives have reached students in these years, but the pandemic has reversed the process now.

The UN’s latest report states that almost 24 million schoolgoing children are at risk of dropping out from education all over the world. We do not know how it will affect the 250 million students in India. But many students are indeed at the edge of the dropouts. This is crucial due to the second wave of the pandemic going on.

Our education system continues classes with the help of new media. It is significant in this pandemic situation. But plenty of students are out of the online classes now. A recent survey among the teens in five states shows that only 22 per cent of the students know how to use the internet.

It says most of the schoolgoing girls spend more time on household activities than studies. Many organisations and authorities provide smartphones and laptops to students, but many others don’t have any electronic devices.

Rural and remote areas are suffering from electricity and network issues. If they have gadgets, they are not helpful for their studies due to lack of network and internet facilities. It leads to an increase in the numbers of dropouts and child marriage victims.

How to tackle these problems is the main question. In the past year, many students have faced a lot of issues regarding online classes. Now the second wave is also a threat to their dreams. The unprecedented event of Covid-19 shuffled our education system. We should go through new techniques to tackle these unusual events.

Online Education is good, but it shows the digital gap. Inclusiveness is needed in drafting schemes and solutions.

In every ward, set up an e-learning centre with at least one computer, essential books and projector. It may not be useful in populated areas but will in rural, isolated tribal regions and off-grid areas. In these areas, an online class is not possible for every student. With the help of volunteers, they would take classes at least once a week. If this is not practical, we can provide short-term courses for students.

Authorities need to reduce the syllabus but not the content. It is our duty to ensure that they don’t drop out of their dreams.

 

First Published:May 9, 2021, 10:33 a.m.

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