Bhubaneswar: ChildFund, a leading non-for-profit working in child development, in collaboration with Council for Social Development, has released an assessment report titled, ‘Perception, Fears and Readiness for Reopening of Schools’. The purpose of understanding the preparedness of the public education system vis-a-vis the perceptions and expectations of the important stakeholders with the aim to bring the voices from the field to inform the policy decisions in favor of the children on the margins. The report emphasizes on why and how an inclusive approach is needed for the reopening of schools with special focus on ‘Social and Emotional Learning’ – a concept wherein children become self-aware, develop self-control, and interpersonal skills vital for school, work, and life success.
The survey was carried out in 20 backward districts in 10 states – Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal in November 2020.The sample size was 1,725 children, 1,605 parents, and 127 teachers. These states had witnessed the heaviest inflow of migrant laborers and their children faced immense challenges in re-enrolling in schools due to a lack of documents. The prolonged closure of schools further exacerbated their situation as it resulted in a decline in nutrition levels among the children, online learning came with severe challenges, and the psychological well-being of the children was majorly affected. These are also the states where Child Fund’s Inter-Generational Coping and Learning (IGCL) intervention was implemented. It is an intervention that helped children with home-based learning and supported children and families to cope with the heightened social and emotional situations during the difficult times.
Aekta Chanda, Senior Education Specialist, Child Fund India says, “In India, educational vulnerability is overlapped with socio-economic disadvantage. Reopening schools is a serious concern in the background of already lacking basic infrastructure of the public provision of school education in India, which is the only option available to cater to the educational needs of children from marginalized communities. It is important to understand the perceptions of various stakeholders before re-opening schools, to plan the process in an inclusive manner, because this group was worst impacted due to temporary closure of schools and the increased emphasis on online mode of education available during the pandemic. With this report, we hope to support the education system to be better prepared to welcome the children back with the reopening of schools.”