Children and schooling in the post-COVID-19 era

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Children and schooling in the post-COVID-19 era

  • A UNESCO Report ‘No Teacher, No Class’ focuses on the need for educational reforms in India.
  • It was prepared along with scholars from Tata Institute of Social Science.
  • The pandemic has revealed that society and state institutions prefer to ignore the conditions under which the family copes with the demands of childhood.

About the Report

  • It is the 3rd edition of the annual flagship report of UNESCO.
  • The pandemic has highlighted that society and state institutions prefer to ignore the conditions under which the family copes with the demands of childhood.
  • In the domains of health & education, the policy framework reflects a minimalist stance in terms of financial investment and institutional strength.
  • There is a considerable diversity and disparity among states of India in terms of policies & execution.
  • Several recent surveys show that the pandemic has left the entire system of education in India ravaged.
  • Even the system of mid day meal for the youngest age group stopped.
  • Teaching switched to online mode, leaving it to the family to cope with the demands hidden in this medium.
  • A vast majority of children from lower socio-economic backgrounds could not access online teaching for connectivity and econmic reasons .
  • Those who had access to online lessons, rates of comprehension and progress were quite low.
  • A survey has traced that exposure to domestic violence, prolonged hours in front of TV, especially among boys, and addiction to digital sources of entertainment are among the various outcomes of COVID-19 confinement.

Recovery plan

  • A significant start has been made in Tamil Nadu.
  • A committee chaired by Professor R. Ramanujam has been asked to prepare a three-year recovery plan and a new curriculum.
  • Restoring children’s innate desire to relate to the world physically and socially surrounding them will constitute a major step towards educational recovery.
  • Taking aid from child psychologists and teachers of young children offer the best promise of healing the system injured due to digitalisation.

Shifting of children

  • Financial constraints have forced a considerable proportion of children studying in private schools to shift to government schools.
  • This shift implies for the children and for the schools that they will now attend needs more than speculation.
  • As many private schools run entirely on the strength of the fees they collect, they had to close down during COVID-19.
  • Digital record of children’s enrolment maintained in some States continues to show their names in a private school.
  • Seeking a transfer requires deletion from this record
  • Many private schools demand recovery of the COVID-19 period fee for granting deletion of the child’s name.

Major recommendations

  • Improve the terms of employment of teachers in both public and private schools
  • Value the professional autonomy of teachers, build career pathways, and, above all, recruit more teachers.
  • A sound, research-based advice is required for rebuilding the system.