Learning Crisis leading to a Generational Catastrophe amid the COVID-19 Pandemic: Impact on Children’s Education and Gender Equality
The State of Gender Equality – #GenderGaps with Dr Indu Prakash Singh on Learning Crisis leading to a Generational Catastrophe amid the Coronavirus Pandemic: Impact on Children’s Education and Gender Equality by Prof Saswati Paik.
Greetings from the Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi!
On behalf of the Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC) at IMPRI, GenDev Centre for Research and Innovation and Delhi Post News, we invite you to a IMPRI #WebPolicyTalk –
The State of Gender Equality
#GenderGaps with Dr Indu Prakash Singh
Prof Saswati Paik, Faculty, Azim Premji University, Bangalore
Dr Indu Prakash Singh, Facilitator, CityMakers Mission International
About the Talk: Learning Crisis leading to a Generational Catastrophe amid the COVID-19 Pandemic: Impact on Children’s Education and Gender Equality
A pandemic has changed our life in many ways. During this crisis, how are our children doing? Are they all safe? These are the main questions to explore through this webinar.
Before the outbreak of the worldwide pandemic, a learning crisis among children was identified by the World Bank; around 53 percent of children in low- and middle-income countries were found to be living in “Learning Poverty”. Since March 2020, the schools are no more running their classes in the premises due to the pandemic. By mid of April, almost 1.58 billion children and youth, from pre-primary to higher education, in 200 countries across the globe were affected by the pandemic in various ways (United Nations, 2020).
A recent report by the United Nations has highlighted that the closure of the educational institutions especially the schools will “hamper the provision of essential services to children and communities, including access to nutritious food, affect the ability of many parents to work, and increase risks of violence against women and girls”. The report also provided a note of caution which states “Preventing a learning crisis from becoming a generational catastrophe requires urgent action from all” (United Nations, 2020).
A prolonged academic detachment may have multiple consequences on children such as drastic dropout from schools, increase in child labour, child marriage, child trafficking, abuse and addiction to substances. In a nutshell, a major portion of children are extremely vulnerable due to such pandemic. It will have extremely bad impact on the girls children who are already deprived of decent educational opportunities for many reasons including gender specific norms and practices existing in the society.
A pandemic followed by lockdown and economic crisis as well as closure of schools have caused a huge damage to the childhood of many children. There are two sets of children to be highlighted in the talk – one set of children who are enrolled in schools but not receiving any formal education through regular schooling for few months and another set of children who belong to migrant labourers’ families, some are left behind in the villages by parents who undertake employment elsewhere and many more who migrate with their parents and often engaged as daily wage labourers in construction sector, brick kilns and agricultural sectors.
There are 1551000 schools in India which are run by various kinds of management. Out of these, majority (almost 75 per cent) are either fully managed by the government or any department under the government or by autonomous bodies created under the central government or established by state governments in order to meet a specified purpose.
The children, especially the girl children in rural India are mainly dependent on government schools. On the other hand, around 50000 schools are residential and run by various departments of government of India including Tribal Welfare Department and Social Welfare Department. In many such residential schools, the residential facility is provided with a bare minimum need of the children. What may happen to those children studying in rural areas having poor facilities in schools and rare access to any formal education during this prolonged school closure due to pandemic? What may happen to the girl children due to this crisis? The scenario is presently blurred but alarming which may lead to a generational catastrophe.
There is a famous proverb that says, “If you educate a man, you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a nation”. If we relook at the education of women in India, probably we will agree that even after 73 years of Independence, we are far from reaching a level of satisfaction in terms of women’s education. How are the girl children of our nation doing in terms of their education? How are they doing during this pandemic?
A report by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) published in 2018 stated that 39.4% of girls of 15-18 years across India drop out of education. Most of the girls who drop out, do not end up earning; they are forced to perform household chores or even resort to begging, the report claims. Girls drop out from schools because of several reasons. One set of reasons is associated with family and social norms and the other set of reasons is associated with the facilities available in the schools especially in government schools where majority of girl children are enrolled in our country.
This talk will highlight two main aspects: (i) exclusion of children from education system in India with few evidences from the countryside especially Barmer district of Rajasthan and armed conflict affected districts of Chhattisgarh; (ii) issues related to out of school girl children who are either never enrolled or silently excluded from the educational system as evident from data and field experiences. It will try to re-examine the question of gender inequality as observed in the field from the practitioner’s point of view.
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