A survey conducted by Oxfam India across five Indian states says over 80% children enrolled in government schools did not receive any form of education since the lockdown period. Only 20% teachers of government schools were trained for delivering classes online.
The ‘Status Report – Government and Private Schools During COVID-19’ survey was based on responses of 1,158 parents across private and government schools in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, and Uttar Pradesh. It also incorporates the responses of over 488 government school teachers based on interviews conducted between May to June 2020.
Despite the Supreme Court’s order asking states to ensure the supply of midday meals to students of shut schools, only 65% students in all five states received meals, with over 92% children in UP saying that they were deprived of the facility.
The survey points out that two out of every five government school teachers did not have the devices required to deliver education online, with the percentage of such teachers being as high as 80% and 67% in Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand respectively. In addition, over 75% parents of children enrolled in government schools said the absence of internet connectivity, inability to afford data connections and slow internet speed had created hurdles in online learning.
In Jharkhand, over 40 percent parents said that they did not have the right device to access online education for their children.
More shocking is the finding that around 80% teachers in these five states had received no orientation training for conducting online classes, with Bihar leading the chart where only 5% teachers received training for digital education.
School fees remain a major source of economic stress, the survey said.
It said around 39% parents in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh had to pay increased fees for the upcoming academic year.
In Odisha, which had issued no clear instruction on school fees, around half of the parents had to pay for uniforms, despite massive resistance. In private schools too, 80% parents said they faced challenges in online education, with 23 and 18% saying that didn’t have internet connection.
The survey recommended 10 points:
1. Issue a notification under the provisions of Section 10 (2) (1) of the Disaster Management Act, putting in place a moratorium on private schools hiking fees until normalcy is restored
2. Improve enforcement of state orders around fee hikes; set up a helpline for parents to report grievances and ensure that they are responded to within 48 hours
3. Use inclusive means such as including a few pages of printed material of daily exercise for children along with the MDM and ICDS rations being distributed
4. Ensure home delivery of textbooks to all children in government schools to enable them to return to the realm of learning
5. Facilitate physical classes to support a gradual transition to the reopening of schools by issuing instructions to begin Mohalla classes (while maintaining physical distancing), in areas with low infection rates Page 4
6. Ensure safety, home delivery of cooked meals/dry rations under the midday meal scheme; ensure access is unconditional (without documentation such as Aadhaar)
7. Disinfect schools thoroughly and develop a participative process involving parents, local health administration and teachers to certify schools as safe to open
8. Instruct states to recover lost instructional time by designing and delivering a 45-day accelerated learning curriculum (focused on foundational skills) that supports a smooth transition for students back to school
9. Mobilise Panchayat Samitis to map at-risk and vulnerable children (particularly girls and migrant children), and connect them to relevant social protection schemes
10. Don’t task teachers with non-teaching field-duties that have safety and health hazards; in the case that such tasks are allocated, ensure that they receive PPE, additional hazard pay and insurance