Newsletter on the Education Emergency
November - December 2021

The National Coalition on the Education Emergency (NCEE) has been continuing its efforts to 'resume' and 'renew' school education, advocating for school re-opening and for empathetic education on resumption.
Omicron: Schools should be last to close and first to open

As cases of omicron increase, there are apprehensions that schools will be closed again, the Delhi government has recently done so. However, the call that  'Schools should be the last to close and first to re-open' needs to be adhered to, given the huge costs of school closure  to the well-being of children and the relatively lower (even negligible) costs of re-opening schools. The new variant shows no indication of causing fatalities amongst children. Like with the economy, it is essential to make a clear consideration of the relative costs of keeping schools open and closing them. India has unfortunately shown it is easy to callously disregard the huge costs to the large sections of Indian children who are kept completely out of structured learning during closure. These costs are long term, even life long and we cannot afford to ignore them.
Coalition prepares note on supporting early years’ education

A note on supporting children’s learning in the foundational stage in the context of the current Education Emergency, caused by a long spell of school closure has been prepared by Prof. Venita Kaul with inputs from other education experts. It builds on the guidance provided in the publication A Future at Stake and focuses on foundational learning for children aged 3-8 years. This publication fills an important  need of teachers, in addressing the learning needs of young children, who have been most affected by school closure.
Social Mobilization

Letter to Members of Parliament: An appeal was made to all the MPs to raise the issue of Education Emergency in the parliament, discuss in detail its various aspects and urgently address the emergency by taking concrete policy and budgetary actions that include financial, academic, nutritional and social measures, through a multi-year program.

Consultation with Governments: Drawing upon critical aspects from A Future at Stake and inputs from the committee formed by the Karnataka DSERT, the academic guidelines for school opening has been finalized and submitted to be issued by the education department. Read in English ಕನ್ನಡ.

Advocacy Campaigns

Eggs in midday meal: The NCEE endorsed a statement released by the Right to Food campaign, Karnataka, asking the government to increase the planned provision of eggs from thrice a week to students in North East Karnataka, to cover all children in the state and provide eggs daily as a part of the midday meals. Such provision would make a significant impact on the nutrition status of children and help in improving the nutrition levels of children in the state. As part of this campaign, eggs and bananas were distributed in a government aided high school in Bengaluru to urge the government to take necessary steps.

Children’s Day press release: Emphasizing that the need of the hour is for children to return to a caring, safe and conducive learning environment, where the focus is on strengthening their learning-to-learn abilities and re-establishing connections amongst students and between teachers and students. NCEE issued a statement calling upon governments to pay heed to the needs of the children and help them get the education they need and deserve.

Panel discussion: RTE Forum organized a series of thematic consultations with educational experts, professionals and concerned stakeholders with the purpose of developing a position paper on the safe reopening of schools that will provide a comprehensive analysis of the challenges faced by children and offer clear recommendations for the government. Gurumurthy Kasinathan and Dr. Sajitha Bashir participated in the 2nd and 3rd consultations respectively, where aspects related to the limitations and suggestions for appropriate use of technology in the response to the Education Emergency, the chronic under-funding in the public education system in India and the financial resources needed to ensure a comprehensive response to reduce inequality were highlighted. Links: 1st consultation 2nd consultation 3rd consultation

Education support to schools and communities

Steps in the right direction: The efforts of the Tamil Nadu Education department to aid the educational recovery of students facing the repercussions of the Education Emergency. Apart from dedicated funding from the government to address the learning gap due to school closure, two educational programs have been recently announced:

Illam Thedi Kalvi (“education coming home”): The Tamil Nadu government in collaboration with several NGOs, education experts, teachers and community volunteers has initiated a community learning program to support student learning through after-school activities and lessons in local community spaces. Efforts are underway to mobilize and sensitize volunteers through kala jathas and training programs. Resource material to be used by the volunteers has been developed by the SCERT.

Ennum Ezhuthum (“Counting and Writing”): A foundational numeracy and literacy program to achieve foundational literacy and numeracy for all children <8 years in the next 3 years. The program aims to use a comprehensive approach that moves away from the traditional syllabus completion methods to using methods that are appropriate to students contexts. Members of the NCEE have been involved in the planning and implementation of these programs. For more information, write to us.

The resource repository is being continually updated, compiling different ideas and activities to help teachers equip themselves with a flexible repertoire of approaches and resources to support the acquisition/re-acquisition of skills of learning – in terms of language abilities, mathematical abilities as well as socio-emotional development aspects .

We have also been continuing the documentation of the work and experiences of different organizations as innovation models, in engaging with children and creating opportunities for learning during the pandemic.


Policy Tracker: In addition to the school opening status in different states, information regarding education finances, mid-day meals, textbooks, etc are being collated to be included as part of the policy tracker by reaching out to government officials and other organizations. If you or anyone you know can help in this process or have any suggestions, please write to us. The education finance policy tracker is planned to be released early January 2022 and will provide information on state-wise budget allocations on education.

Family Survey: Key findings from the preliminary analysis of the household survey conducted in Karnataka to capture the educational experiences of children indicates that over 70% of parents felt that their children’s reading and writing skills have declined or stayed the same during the pandemic. The survey has now been completed in Telangana and is planned to be undertaken in Tamil Nadu as well. The short survey instrument can be translated into different languages. Groups interested in administering the survey in their states can contact the NCEE.

Coalition in the news
Why Have They Done This to the Children?
“We have victimized kids and robbed them of a childhood, with no benefit whatsoever to show for it”. Bhaskaran Raman discusses indications that much of the world’s response to Covid-19 is indeed disproportionate fear rather than a rational response, in the context of children.
Back to School: How the gap in schooling has caused an education emergency in India

A podcast episode of ‘The Suno India Show’ where Dr. Sajitha Bashir discusses ‘A Future at Stake’ and the steps schools and governments should take to address this education emergency.
Covid and Education News
REWIND 2021 - Schools reopened, but learning continued to suffer
Despite schools reopening in a phased manner this year, students have been unable to grasp lessons taught in the offline classes as they have forgotten basic foundational skills or have not picked up the basic concepts in many core subjects.
Preventing a lost decade
This UNICEF report lays out the work in front of us by taking stock of the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on children and the road to respond and recover to reimagine the future for every child.
Children and schooling in the post-COVID-19 era
“India will have to confront bitter facts if it wants to prepare a recovery plan of any credible and practical value” writes Krishna Kumar
Should Govt Reopen Schools Amid Omicron Scare?
Citing multiple examples of how children are already exposed to the virus to substantiate their claim, these parents show their concurrence with the decision of reopening of schools amid Omicron scare as children are less susceptible to the disease
No Teacher, No Class: State of the Education Report for India, 2021
Focused on the theme of teachers, teaching and teacher education, this UNESCO report attempts to provide an understanding of key aspects of the teaching profession, challenges of their intricate teaching routine and their professional development and provides recommendations to address the challenges facing the teaching profession in India
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Media articles are updated regularly and available on the Education Emergency site
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