Widening the fault lines between rich and poor
Introduction: The longer the delay in reopening schools, the greater the threat of growing gap between rich and poor students
In most parts of the world, people’s income is determined by how wealthy and educated were their parents. But “the degree of the “persistence” of income across generations is much higher in India than in India. other developing countries,” found a team of researchers from around the world Bank in their study in 2018. In other words, the children of parents in India find it much more difficult to raise the level of education and income scale compared to other large developing countries like China, Brazil, Indonesia, Egypt and Nigeria, according to the researchers’ study.
The pandemic-induced school lockdown is already widening that gap, even any further. Widespread economic distress and job losses as people fled their homes to villages in the countryside have plunged millions of families into poverty, and out-of-school children. The most affected were the parents, who had sent their children to private schools for a better future, found themselves unable to pay school fees.
Even before the pandemic, according to an all-India third-party survey commissioned by the Ministry of Education in 2014, there were nearly 20.41 million children in the age bracket of 6 to 13 years in the country, of whom about 60.64 lakhs (2.97%) were out of school, of whom 28.97 lakhs (47.78%) were girls. The prolonged closure of schools – one of the longest in the world –
– in India has not only deepened the rich-poor fault lines, but has led to “catastrophic consequences” for poor children, according to a survey.
“The picture that emerges from the survey is absolutely bleak, especially in rural areas,” says the study, conducted by nearly 100 volunteers in 15 states. and the territories under federal administration. the A survey found that almost half of the sampled children were unable to read more than a few words, and only 24% in cities and only 8% in villages were studying online.
The reason for such low online participation is easy to understand. A big many of these households did not have a smartphone – only about half of households in villages – owned one. And, even among those who did own a smartphone, only a third of children studied online in cities, and around 15% in the villages. Only 9% of children surveyed had their own Telephone (s. The disastrous consequences of the great digital divide in a developing country nation.
“Most parents believe that their child’s reading and writing skills have diminished during lockdown,” the survey says and adds that more than 90% of disadvantaged parents surveyed wanted schools to reopen as soon as as soon as possible.
Similarly, a UNICEF study entitled “Rapid Assessment of Learning School closures in the context of Covid” argues that almost 40% of students in six states of Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, has not used any form of distance learning for the past six months. These include manuals, worksheets, phone or video calls, WhatsApp for access materials or connect with teachers, learning programs on the radio or TV, YouTube videos, video courses, learning apps (e.g. DIKSHA), home teacher visits and private lessons, etc.
Oxfam’s study “Inequality Kills: India Supplement 2022” also claims that online learning has only increased the digital divide between students across the country. Of the poorest 20% of households in India, only 2.7% have access to computers and 8.9% to Internet facilities and access is lower among marginalized group. “Ninety-six percent of Scheduled Tribes and 96.2% of Scheduled Caste households whose children attend school do not have access to the computer. Only 15.5% of rural women know how to use a computer or the Internet. Only 4% of rural households had a computer when the pandemic hit and less than 15% of rural households have an internet connection” reveals the report.
The survey report also indicates that almost 40% of government teachers schools fear that prolonged school closures will lead to a third of students are not returning once schools reopen. It is often socially marginalized who are the poorest. Therefore, it is likely that a higher sink rate
outs will be observed among Dalits, Adivasis and Muslims.
Globally, according to a World Bank report related to Covid risk of school closure pushing 72 million more children of primary school age into learning poverty – meaning they are unable to read and understand a simple text at 10 years old.
The pandemic, according to the report, amplifies the global learning crisis that already existed: it could increase the percentage of children of primary school age children in low- and middle-income countries living in learning poverty up to age 63 percent from 53 percent, and it puts this generation of students at risk of losing about $10 trillion in lifetime future revenue, an amount equivalent to nearly 10% of global GDP.
State governments now responsible for reopening schools, there is absolutely no time to waste. The reopening of schools will not be only bridge the rich-poor gap, but prevent poorer students or those from less privileged families to be physically and emotionally scarred forever.
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
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