STUDY ON THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 PANDEMIC ON CHILDREN IN FOUR STATES IN INDIA

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Tata Trusts commissioned and supported a research study to assess and understand “Impact of Covid-19 on Children in 4 States – Jharkhand, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.” The study aimed at understand impact of the pandemic in multi-dimensional manner, going beyond only education or livelihood. The field based study also brings out qualitative dimensions of the complex reality children faced. It was undertaken by Council for Social Development (CSD), New Delhi.

Key findings of the study:

Effect of the Pandemic on the Family and Children

  • The pandemic has resulted in the loss of livelihood and a sharp rise in unemployment.
  • Adverse family situations, care work and household chores forced some children to drop out of school and increased the workload of those remaining in school. Gender differences could be noted in work undertaken by boys and girls including boys running errands while girls engaged in housekeeping.
  • Take-home rations (THR) were provided by the Anganwadi centres and schools, only at a later stage, though it was neglected in the initial period of lockdown. However, irregular supply was reported by one-fourth of the children. Distribution of sanitary pads to adolescent girls, a regular phenomenon in the pre-pandemic times, was not resumed even after two years.
  • Curtailed physical activity of children, increased stress level and anxiety, and reduced social interaction was reported during school closure. A drop in wage levels, often led to an increase in domestic violence at home, impacting the mental well-being of children.
  • Cases of child labour, trafficking, child abuse, child marriage, etc. were highlighted in the surveyed states.

Effect of Pandemic on the Education of Children

  • After the pandemic-induced school closure, a substantial proportion of children shifted to government schools and the major reason for such a shift was their inability to pay school fees.
  • On average, one in five parents expressed concerns about the dilapidated condition of school toilets, boundary walls, and conditions of classrooms.
  • Teacher shortage was a major issue that was highlighted in the surveyed government schools.
  • In Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand, more than 50 per cent of the teachers reported receiving training during the phase of school closure. Only about 40 per cent of the teachers on average in Uttar Pradesh said that the training was on the use of digital devices, while in other states it was underreported.
  • Though digital education was promoted during the school closure period, only 27.5 per cent had access to digital devices. Among those who accessed digital education, only 15.8 per cent found the online learning experience to be good.
  • Three-fourth of the surveyed children did not have access to digital education and amongst them, nearly 10 per cent were not studying at all during the school closure period. About 70 per cent hardly studied for 1-2 hours and only about one-third of the children were able to give substantial time to studies.
  • Parents felt that their children’s learning was severely hampered, as they had forgotten the basics and were not able to construct basic sentences. Further, the learning pace has become poor and some children also lost interest in studies, as reported by 35 per cent of the parents.

COVID-19 Response Measures: Interventions of Key Stakeholders

  • The government initiatives mostly focused on digital solutions viz., web portals, mobile Apps, television, radio and YouTube channels, and WhatsApp to share educational content with the children. The most widely used digital solution was Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing (DIKSHA). However, only 32 per cent of the children used digital devices for educational purposes, while more than 40 per cent used them for entertainment.
  • Tata Trusts along with its associate organizations and other NGOs in the surveyed states engaged in providing a face-to-face learning experience to children, through community learning centres (CLCs). Other activities carried out by the NGOs included strengthening libraries of government schools, execution of learning activities for children, etc. Condensed workbooks for various subjects and activity sheets were prepared for the primary and upper primary classes.
  • There are exemplary examples of primary school teachers playing a significant role in bringing children back to school and without their intervention, many children might not have taken admission in upper primary classes and might have dropped out. On average, 60 per cent of the teachers reported constantly being engaged in making home visits to track the children.
  • SMCs were majorly involved in the mobilization of funds for school development activities and brought back children to schools in some of the schools.
  • Anganwadi centres and schools by and large exhibited readiness in welcoming back children to schools in the post-reopening phase. To ensure children’s safety, centres and schools were sanitized, masks distributed, and sanitizers were arranged.

2 thoughts on “STUDY ON THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 PANDEMIC ON CHILDREN IN FOUR STATES IN INDIA

  1. The study and the report is a mirror of empact of pandemic on children in their various interests. It rises the awareness and reminds the responsibilities of government, parents, teachers, child himself and common men in community to commit, plan and resolve the after effects.

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