The School Children’s Online and Offline Learning (School) survey was conducted in August in 15 states and union territories with about 1,400 students from disadvantaged families entitled “Locked Out: Emergency Report on School Lead Out”. It was released on Monday.
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“The picture that emerges from this survey is very disappointing. In rural areas, only 28 percent of children were studying regularly at the time of the survey, and 37 percent were not studying at all. The results of a general reading test are particularly worrying: about half of the children read more than a few words.” “It simply came to our notice then. The survey claimed that the appropriate figures for regular reading, not studying at all and not being able to read more than a few words in urban areas were 47 per cent, 19 per cent and 42 per cent respectively.
The main results of the school survey focus on relatively deprived villages where children usually attend government schools.
Schools and other educational institutions across the country have been closed for more than a year and a half since the epidemic began. Following the significant improvement in the Covid-1 situation, several states have been reopening schools in phases since September.
According to the report, the proportion of children studying regularly online is only 24 per cent and eight per cent in urban and rural areas respectively.
The survey noted that lack of funds, poor connectivity, or access to smartphones were some of the reasons for the “very limited” access to online learning among sample students.
“One of the reasons is that many sample households (about half in rural areas) don’t have smartphones. But that’s just the first hurdle: even among families with smartphones, the proportion of children studying regularly online is only 31 percent in urban areas and 15 percent in rural areas. Smartphones are often used by working adults.” Either, and may or may not be available to school children, especially younger siblings (only nine percent of all school children had their own smartphone), ”it explained.
Even among disadvantaged families, the figures were “much worse” for Dalit and Indigenous families than others, for online education, regular reading or reading skills, the survey claimed.
For example, only four percent of rural SC / ST children were studying online, compared to 15 percent of other rural children. The survey added that half of them were able to read more than a few letters in the reading test.
According to the survey, a huge majority of parents felt that their child’s ability to read and write decreased during the lockdown. Even among urban parents with “online kids”, those absences were as high as “65 percent”.
“Overall in the sample, only four percent of parents felt that their child’s ability to read and write improved during the lockout – something that should have been the norm. Parents who felt their child had adequate online access was only 23 percent in urban areas and Eight percent in rural areas.
Among rural SC / ST parents, a huge “per cent” wanted schools to be reopened as soon as possible.
However, according to the report, the reopening of schools, which is still controversial, will only take patients a few years to “take the first step” and “repair this damage”.
“Even preparations for the first step (such as school building repairs, safety guidelines, teacher training, enrollment drives) are virtually invisible in many states. Taking as well as restoring their mental, social and nutritional well-being.As the situation stands, the system seems to be heading towards business as usual when schools reopen – a recipe for disaster.
The survey, conducted in 15 states and union territories, including Assam, Bihar, Delhi, Haryana, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, was a joint effort of about 100 volunteers across the country. The report was compiled by a coordinating team, which included economists Jean Droyes and Nirali Bakla.
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