New Delhi: At least 80 percent children in India between the age group of 14-18 years reported lower levels of learning during COVID-19 pandemic than when physically at school, according to a UNICEF report.
Noting that repeated school closures have led to alarming inequities in learning opportunities for children in South Asia, the report by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) pointed out that 76 per cent of parents of students aged 5-13 years reported drop in learning levels during remote learning.
“School closures in South Asia have forced hundreds of millions of children and their teachers to transition to remote learning in a region with low connectivity and device affordability. Even when a family has access to technology, children are not always able to access it. As a result, children have suffered enormous setbacks in their learning journey,” George Laryea-Adjei, UNICEF Regional Director for South Asia, said.
In India, 42 per cent of children between 6-13 years reported not using any type of remote learning during school closures.
“This means they have not used any of the following for remote learning since the schools shut down: textbooks, worksheets, phone or video calls, WhatsApp to access materials or connect with teachers, learning programmes on radio or TV, YouTube videos, video classes, learning applications, home visits by teachers and private tuitions, community teaching at local locations, other websites,” the report said.
“At least 42 per cent of students aged 5-13 years and 29 per cent of students aged 14-18 years are not in touch with their teachers at all,” it said.
The UNICEF called upon the governments to prioritise safe reopening of all schools while also ensuring that children are able to pursue quality learning remotely if necessary.
“The safe reopening of schools must be considered on utmost priority for all governments. Parallelly, investing in teachers will ensure that teachers and schools can adapt to all situations. The more teachers are trained, equipped and supported on distance and blended learning, the better they will be able to reach all their students,” added George Laryea Adjei.