Pandemic has increased early school leavers
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According to UNESCO, the education of over 154 million students worldwide was disrupted after schools abruptly closed due to the pandemic. Now there are concerns that not everyone may be able to return to classrooms when schools resume. In India, several experts have raised concerns about the rise in school drop-out rates as new socio-economic dynamic forms in a post-Covid-19 world.

Delhi Deputy Prime Minister Manish Sisodia said around 15% of students enrolled in Delhi state schools were missing in the alternative classes conducted online or over the phone. There are approximately 15 lakh students enrolled in over 1100 government schools in Delhi.

“Continuous efforts have been made to meet this challenge. Two months ago, around 20 of the 300 students in our school were gone. Now there are only six. Teachers went to the homes of such children to find out where they were Most of them did not attend class because of a lack of smart devices. These students are now being given weekly workbooks so they do not fall behind or drop out, “said the headmaster of a government school in Delhi
Educational times on condition of anonymity. The remaining six students are the ones who have now returned to their villages and cannot communicate with each other.

The full effect on early school leaving cannot be spotted until students return to classrooms, says Budithi Rajsekhar, chief secretary of school education for the Andhra Pradesh government, as several states have not held online courses for state students. However, some other measures have been taken, including educational programs on television, radio, and handing out workbooks, to ensure that the blackout period is not wasted on these students. He adds that children in elementary school classes are at higher risk.

“The Andhra government will provide all grades I-X students with a custom school kit that includes full uniforms, shoes and books. This will ensure that the lack of resources is not a problem for children to return to school, ”says Rajsekhar. The Andhra government also conducted a survey to find out how many students lack resources for online learning and found that up to one lakh student in the state did not have access to a television, smartphone, or laptop. The state has around 35 lakh students in state schools.

“The students were given bridge workbooks with activities from the NCERT alternative calendar to make their learning easier. These were especially helpful for students who have absolutely no access to online or TV learning through the educational programs broadcast on Doordarshan, says Rajsekhar.

In July, the Ministry of Education, formerly the HRD ministry, asked states and union territories to ensure that the names of children of migrant workers who returned home during the COVID-19 pandemic are not removed from school lists. It also directed states to compile a database of children who left the area for their homes in other states or other parts of the same state. Rajsekhar adds that all key guidelines are followed to screen early school leavers.

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