While the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to spare a thought for the underprivileged children who have been unable to attend school for the last three months. These children have limited access to modern technology and therefore they have found it extremely challenging to make the transition to online education, unlike the rest of the world. The aim of this blog is just to give you an insight into how students and teachers in rural areas are dealing with the pandemic situation and how the absence of school is affecting children.
Let’s begin with exactly how students are receiving their education at the moment. Some schools have been shut since March and their students have been sitting at home doing nothing during this time. Most of these schools are funded by the Government and have received no instructions from the administration on how to conduct online classes or find an alternate solution. This lack of initiative on the government’s behalf is the reason many children are missing out on their education.
On the other hand, there are NGO funded schools who are making attempts to teach their students online. Although the kids are fascinated with this whole new system of education, this system does have its own set of problems. The medium of teaching until now was on mobile phones via WhatsApp and very recently, they have shifted to zoom. None of these children have laptops and most don’t have phones of their own. Owing to this, students are dependent on their parents’ phones. The issue with this is that even though the entire country is under lockdown, the parents still have daily wage jobs and therefore are not at home during the normal school hours, but only at night.” The teachers have had to adjust to the timings that are convenient to the students and parents”, said Rose, from the Karunya foundation. With this shift in paradigm, she said “teachers are also unable to gauge whether a child has understood a concept or not and cannot track homework assignments either”. Having said that, the children were over the moon to see their friends’ and teachers’ faces after so long.
The primary issue with this system is that many children receive proper shelter and food in school. The provision of midday meals was an integral part of the day. Now, with the lockdown in place many children and their families yearn for the basic essentials. This is what the children miss most about school. For them, school is like a safe haven filled with happiness to escape the problems at home. This is the main reason why children are so eager to come back to school.
Full name: Vihaan Desai
School: Hill Spring International