Ground Report | New Delhi: Student Dropouts during Covid-19 Pandemic; The situation has changed drastically since the pandemic started for many. Among the various categories of people suffering is a student who seems to be the worst affected.
Student Dropouts during Covid-19 Pandemic
One such student is Rani Bhattacharya of Class 10 at Gaza High School in Haripal town of Hoogly District in West Bengal who opens up to The Voices to tell her story. She says, “Since the Covid-19 pandemic started the situation went out of control, and the imposing of lockdown in 2020 made things worse for us. Our school remains closed to date although it is being said it may reopen in October if situations remain under control.
The exam pattern has changed from a yearly to a weekly basis. Continuous evaluation and online classes have added to our woes as it’s not possible for all the students to get smartphones and internet connectivity. I am not facing much difficulty as there is a telecom tower installed near our house but the situation is not the same for all.”
Another student by the name of Devdut Biswas of class 10 of the same school confirmed this fact about lack of proper communication. He states, “Although online classes have started it’s very expensive and quite difficult for all students. Connectivity issues add to the problems.”
His father Amalesh Das explains the situation in detail. He says, “I have been working as a LIC agent for 18 years. We are a total of seven members of the family. The Covid crisis was never expected. Our family had suffered badly during the lockdown. My nephew works in Mumbai as a temporary goldsmith and is learning since 2018.
He couldn’t return due to the nationwide lockdown. My brother is a Toto driver. It has been tough for us like every lower-middle-class family. The vaccination process is also slow as enough amounts of vaccines are not transported from cities.”
1st generation learners
To know about the schooling process we interviewed the assistant teacher of Gaza High School, Nazir Hossain. He says, “During the 1st wave most of the students detached themselves from studies. We have in total 430 students. Out of the 20% are from Adivasi communities, 40% are Muslims and the rest 40% are from different Hindu castes. It is very difficult to get them back to studies as they mainly belong to below poverty line families and are 1st generation learners.
Most of the male students are sent off as goldsmiths factory workers, migrating laborers and masons in their teenage to Mumbai, Hyderabad, Sikandarabad, Rajasthan, and J&K to help their families. Girl children are about 40% in the school and as it’s a remote area child marriage is very common here. To prevent this the government introduced midday meal schemes and rationing systems to help the BPL family students. Since the pandemic started midday meals are off but the rationing system is in full swing.”
ALSO READ: Gorakhpur Murder; what’s the story?
The situation is similar yet different in the urban areas. For example in Goragacha Sishu Bharati High School located in Behala, Kolkata, there are no dropouts recorded from 2020. Assistant teacher of the school Mr. Munshi Sarafat Hossain and Headmaster Dr. Satyabrata Jana provide insight into this topic.
According to them, “The total student strength of the school from class 5 to 10 is 23 and a total number of teachers are 6 with 3 office staffs. As for dropouts are concerned, there has not been a single dropout between classes 1 to 10 till now from 2020. All weekly activity tasks are provided and students are evaluated on a continuous evaluation basis.
prevent health hazards
Mid-day meals were provided on a daily basis by the School Education Department but are now stopped as the schools are closed to prevent health hazards. We continue to give the rations once a month to all the BPL student’s families. Pre Covid-19 times, students were given the rations containing basic groceries but now their family members come to collect it.”
Although the school authorities stated there have been no dropouts it remains unseen whether the students are really studying or helping their families by doing petty jobs. Here the question arises that whether the efforts made by the government and teachers are going in vain or the children are benefitting in any way.
In relation to the Private school’s response, we interviewed Sutapa Ghosh, former school teacher, and examiner of a reputed Birla school of Kolkata, West Bengal. We record her statements through voice clips sent by her on topics related to the pandemic, private school’s response, student-teacher relationship, graveness of the current situation, and what steps can be taken for correction. (Student Dropouts during Covid-19 Pandemic)
We also interviewed a senior Career counselor and guidance coach Mr. Jaishankar Gopalan to gain some insights into what educational experts think about this situation. He shares with us the raw facts about the education system that he saw through his 29 years of experience of work and relief work all over the country. He shares the real insights in form of voice clips.