Ground Report | New Delhi: Only 8% of rural children; A survey conducted in relation to the prolonged school closure amid the Corona epidemic has revealed that only eight percent of children in rural areas are studying online regularly and 37 percent are not able to study at all.
According to the report, primary and secondary schools are closed for the entire 17 months i.e. more than 500 days. During this time, very few privileged children were able to study online in a pleasant and safe environment of their homes.
But due to the lockdown of the school, there was no option left for the rest of the children. Some struggled to continue studying online or offline. Many other children gave up and due to lack of work, started spending time in the village or settlement.
“They are deprived of not only the right to study but also other benefits of going to schools such as safe environment, good nutrition, and healthy social life,” the report said. The report, titled School Children’s Online and Offline Learning (School), has been prepared by the coordination team (Nirali Bakhla, economists Jean Dreze and Ritika Kheda and researcher Vipul Paikra).
Only 8% of rural children
This school survey was conducted in August 2021 among about 1400 children in 15 states (Assam, Bihar, Chandigarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal). About half of the children surveyed could read only a few words. Most parents believe that their children’s ability to read and write decreased during the lockdown.
According to the report, only 28 percent of children in rural areas are studying regularly. At the same time, only 35 children are studying at times. About 60 percent of the households surveyed live in rural areas and about 60 percent belong to Dalit or tribal communities.
Along with this, it has also been told in the report that most of the families involved in the survey did not have a smartphone. Among households with smartphones, the proportion of children who regularly study online is just 31 percent in urban areas and 15 percent in rural areas. Another major obstacle, especially in rural areas, is that the school is not sending the material online, or if it is sending it, the parents are not aware of it.
According to the report, most of the children had not met their teacher till 30 days before this survey. Only a few parents reported that during the last three months no teacher came to the house or helped their child in studies. “Most of the teachers seem oblivious to their students, barring a few of them at times, except for symbolic online interactions like forwarding YouTube links through WhatsApp,” he said.
Half of rural households
Another worrying thing that has come out from this survey is that along with the closure of schools, mid-day meals have also been stopped in the surveyed areas. “Overall, the distribution of mid-day meal options appears to be quite sporadic and haphazard,” the report said. (Only 8% of rural children)
During the survey, most parents believed that their children’s ability to read and write has decreased during the lockdown. Even among urban parents, the proportion of those who believed was 65 percent, which is a large number. Overall, only four percent of parents believed that their child’s ability to read and write improved during the lockdown.
When the lockdown started in March 2020, about 20 percent of school children were enrolled in a private school. During the lockdown, many private schools tried to recover by adopting online education and continued to charge old fees.
But due to the additional expenses in online education, many children left private schools and took admission in government schools. According to the report, about 26 percent of the children have had to do this.