School closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic has led to loss of learning not just in terms of a disconnect from education but increasingly also regression in curricular learning in the form of forgetting of what children had learnt in the previous class as well as what they did not get an opportunity to learn in the present class. This is going to lead to a cumulative loss over the years which would also impact their adult lives. This study, undertaken in January 2021, reveals the extent and nature of the ‘forgetting/regression’ kind of learning loss among children in public schools across primary classes
Four main areas of concerns that have emerged as a consequence of COVID-19 related closures are learning losses, widening learning inequities, compromised children’s nutrition and health, and, mental and psychological well-being and safety of children. It is imperative that further disruption to the lives of children is minimized, while keeping them and their caregivers safe. This research study recommends minimum guidelines to ensure that students return to schools safely, based on global experience as well as the lessons learnt from the last six months of partial school openings in India.
The economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to lead to school drop-outs, especially among the rural poor, with a disproportionately high impact on children from vulnerable backgrounds, including those belonging to marginalised castes, tribes and religions. In addition to a decline in learning, girls are likely to encounter increased gender-based violence. Low-fee private schools have found it challenging to extend online learning to their students due to device and internet access issues faced by households and teachers. Parents are likely to shift their children to more affordable schools to manage economic situation and opt for public education which will, in turn, increase demand for and exert pressure on government schools.
Life in the time of Covid-19: Mapping the impact of Covid-19 on the lives of school going children especially girls in India
Educational interventions have been grossly under-accessed due to multiple barriers faced by children from marginalized groups. There has been a violation of the right to education and high potential of widening disparities in education. In particular, the gendered impact of the pandemic may reverse the gains made in gender parity in education and empowerment unless addressed comprehensively
A contemporary view of the nine Pacific Island Countries (PICs) are captured as distinct case studies in the publication. These states have made some progress in strengthening their education systems and enabling more children to enrol in school. Open schooling, broadly defined as utilising flexible approaches to learning based on the principles of open and distance learning, is presented as a means to reach more young people seeking learning opportunities.