The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic caused by the Novel Coronavirus has affected all including children. It has made a dreadful impact on child education, most notably of poor and deprived families.
As per UNESCO estimates, education of 120 crore students across the world is disrupted by school closures. This includes 32.1 crore children in India. Keeping children at home for more than 20 weeks has disturbed the physical, emotional, and social wellbeing of children. The worst affected among them are kids of the poor.
Experts say that short time out of education will have its effect on children. When schools are closed for a more extended period, imagine how more and long-lasting the impact would be on them. Children may forget what they already know. While online classes may prevent this regression for some, think of those, who lack access to technology and internet connection.
An 11-year-old child from an indigenous community says:
“I have been promoted to 6th grade. Due to school closure, new classes have not yet started. I will be able to collect my new books only when my school is open. Our teachers are sending lessons through mobile. A few days, I managed to receive them through my friend’s bapa’s (dad’s) mobile. But when my friend’s father started to go to work, my learning stopped.” This is the reality in most cases of rural children, especially those living in remote hilly or forest terrains in India.
Children in urban areas face challenges of a different kind. They live in small houses crammed in unhygienic locations. Learning with peers sitting in one classroom at school is totally different from learning in the home environment. Are children mentally prepared for this? Not at all. Parents having to work at home or with no work, older siblings playing games or watching TV, grannies chatting, and neighbourhood noise cannot re-create a classroom environment.
Children of the poor both in urban and rural areas in India are thus denied education in this ‘new normal’. Their minds are filled with numerous questions. They require help to elude their mental pressure triggered by unanswered questions. Adding insult to injury, they face abuse in multiple forms; sexual abuse and child trafficking are the worst among them.Is their childhood secure? No. Thousands of children are pushed out of education and are plunged into early marriage or labour force.
Such children look for a helping hand to continue their education. Uninterrupted learning for them is possible only when caring individuals come forward to support. We can rebuild the social fabric for children to restore their childhood through education.
What does ActionAid Association do?
ActionAid Association’s interventions with communities are built on strong relationships. This fact gives us the confidence to work even in risky situations. We work together with partner organisations, volunteers, community leaders and local teachers. We teach children on the need to maintain hygiene and to take steps to stop the spread of COVID-19.
As on June 30, 2020, nearly 2,000 Education Volunteers from ‘Nai Pahel’ initiative in Uttar Pradesh, have been able to reach out to 45,258 children in 3,822 villages. They have also identified 3,761 out-of-school children, several of them are from migrant families. To ensure continuity of education for children from excluded communities in Haryana amid the COVID-19 crisis, we are identifying village-based volunteers. We are running ‘Mohalla Pathshalas’ in the state.
Meaningful engagement with children is needed to build their resilience in times of adversity like COVID-19 Pandemic. Equipping community leaders and volunteers to focus on child education will help children have a bright future. Your support can achieve this.
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