Lockdown: Thousands of children still out of school

NEW DELHI: Thousands of children displaced due to the lockdown are yet to get readmitted to schools, latest data submitted by the education ministry to the parliamentary panel shows.Several states have identified thousands of children of immigrants who have come to these states since the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, and most of them have yet to get admission in schools, according to data the ministry shared at a meeting of the parliamentary standing committee education, women, children, youth and sports on Tuesday.The meeting was on ‘Bridging the learning gap caused due to school lockdown, as well as review of online and offline instructions, examinations and plans for reopening schools’.While Madhya Pradesh has identified 206,417 school children of immigrants, only 81,563 of them have initiated or completed school admissions. West Bengal has identified 38,682 school-going children of immigrants, and none of them have joined any school yet, the data showed. In Bihar and Karnataka, which have identified 58,256 and 28,901 immigrant children, respectively, admissions have been started but there is no data on completion or progress of the process. The same is the case of Kerala where 10,969 immigrant children have been identified. Likewise, there is no clarity on admissions of over 32,980 children of immigrants reported by Jharkhand or 57,265 identified in Rajasthan. Assam, with 1,053 school-going children identified, has not started admissions as schools continue to stay closed. Tens of thousands of migrant workers moved with family and children from cities to hometowns amid the lockdown and closure of workplaces. As a result, school schedules of such children have been severely disrupted.Among states and union territories that managed to get such children into the schooling network, the Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government has done well with admissions of all 203 identified children completed.Same is the case with Biju Janata Dal-led Odisha government that has completed admissions of all 5,654 identified schoolchildren of immigrants. Tamil Nadu also has done well with admissions given to 5,863 of the 5,971 children identified, as did Gujarat with admissions completed for 250 of the 284 identified children.The ministry has also shared data on the overall response to online learning across schools and noted that only a clutch of states have been able to ensure enough access to digital devices, with at least 80% students reached. Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Kerala, Maharashtra, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Puducherry, Chandigarh, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli have managed device access to their schoolchildren.The rest of the states and union territories are struggling with ensuring adequate online learning and schooling, the report said. Some states are attempting innovative solutions through radio and television channels to reach students, the ministry has submitted. The Union education ministry has this month issued fresh guidelines to all states to identify, admit and teach out-of-school children of migrants on priority. It asked states and UTs to carry out proper identification of out-of-school children in the age group of 6 to 18 years through a comprehensive door-to-door survey and prepare action plan for their enrolment.
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