Skip to main content

Overt emphasis on online teaching depriving marginalized children: RTE Forum

Counterview Desk
The Right to Education (RTE) Forum, India’s top education rights network, in a memorandum to the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Human Resource Development, seeking to protect the rights of children during and after the Covid-19 pandemic, has called for “immediate actions to stop the increase in dropout rate of school children, child labour and child trafficking."
More than 100 signatories to the memorandum – including educationists, academia, social activists, teachers’ unions, civil society organizations (CSOs) – says that “extraordinary circumstances demand extraordinary measures, and every measure should be in accordance with the values and provisions of the Constitution of India. These measures must have a humane approach and provide a level playing field for all.”
Especially taking exception to “too much focus on online modes of teaching”, the memorandum says, in such a situation, “majority of children, especially from marginalized communities, will be deprived of their right to education”, suggesting the use of “offline modes to reach children by maintaining physical distance.”
It adds, “Once the situation normalizes all enrolled students must be tracked, especially girls, to ensure no one drops out.”

Text:

Firstly, on behalf of the Right to Education Forum (RTE Forum), a national level advocacy network working for the universalization of education, we would like to acknowledge the efforts of the Government of India to address the spread of and control the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is a very challenging period for the country and everyone, especially the elderly, street dwellers, informal sector workers and the poor who have lost their livelihood in the wake of the lockdown. The children become particularly vulnerable as their parents are deprived of income. What is of utmost importance is their safety and security with adequate food, protection, emotional support and shelter.
At the same time, there are also long-term consequences as a result of the loss of access to education. The children coming from marginalized and disadvantaged section, including children with disabilities, have been hit particularly harshly because of the lockdown. Extraordinary circumstances demand extraordinary measures, and every measure should be in accordance with the values and provisions of the Constitution of India. These measures must have a humane approach and provide a level playing field for all.
We would urge the government to take the following steps so that children enjoy their rights to survival, protection, education and development during and after the COVID-19 pandemic without any discrimination based on religion, gender, class and caste:

Ensure the right to health and nutrition for all children

1. To safeguard food security of India’s children, ensure smooth implementation of the notification for home delivery of mid-day meals and the Supreme Court’s suo moto order for providing nutritional food for children and lactating mothers through the Anganwadi centres for children on an urgent basis. 
The mid-day meal can include either dry food or cooked meals. Provisions must be made for the safety (including protective equipment and hazard pay) of all Anganwadi and ASHA workers and personnel supplying mid-day meals. Provisions for public transportation to reach the delivery points/households regularly must be made. 
The government should enforce orders for ensuring uninterrupted supply of food to students residing in residential schools and hostels. For this purpose, the RTE Forum urges the Government of India to distribute food to all children as part of Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and Mid-Day Meal (MDM)programme till risk of the pandemic is over. Free ration should be made available to every person in need, and supply should not be denied due to the absence of ration cards.
2. Take steps to ensure the health and welfare of India’s poor, which would benefit their children. Rapid testing for Covid-19 should be ramped up and made free in both Government and private hospitals for everyone. 
While the enhanced pension and fund transfers under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana are welcome, the amount should be increased in line with the prevailing minimum wage and made unconditional to not restrict access to services due to absence of necessary documents. Further, there is an urgent need to monitor the delivery of the relief materials at the village unit level.
3. In coordination with the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD), the government should ensure uninterrupted monitoring of health services, especially for the malnourished children, to prevent adverse health conditions during this period. All adolescent girls should continue receiving sanitary napkins, IFA and supplementary nutrition under SABLA and RKSK or the ICDS scheme or School Health Program. 
Immediate admission of migrants' children should be established with nearest schools to enable access nutrition, other entitlements
In coordination with the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Social justice and Empowerment, the government must ensure that children with chronic health conditions or those requiring medication including long term medication are supported as are the therapy and other rehabilitation needs of children with disabilities.
4. Immediate admission/linkage of children of the migrant workers should be established with the nearest schools to enable them to access nutrition and other entitlements. The government should also establish a village-based mechanism to maintain data of migrant families and children in the age group of 3-18 years, who would need to be enrolled in Anganwadis and schools post lockdown.

To ensure right to protection

1. Steps should be taken for child protection, including identification of children at risk of violence and abuse during the lockdown. Helplines and other child protection measures should be declared essential services and kept open. Child protection committees at district and block levels should be activated to monitor child protection.
2. Safety of children in shelter homes and on the migration routes is essential. Members of Village Level Child Protection Committee must be tasked for tracking children at risk, especially girls who are vulnerable to early marriage or trafficking. The Committee should conduct door to door roll call while maintaining physical distance to ensure that children at risk, especially girls, are present in their homes to prevent trafficking. 
Childline or Police or the local Child Welfare Committee should be informed when risks are identified. The staff of these entities would need to be declared essential workers and provided with necessary protective equipment to play this role.
3. There must be greater vigilance and stringent action against the violators of child labour laws. We demand sensitive and empathetic support to affected children. Child labour is a gross violation of children’s rights, and the implementation of the law against child labour is of utmost priority in the current situation.
4. The government must ensure the training of public health workers and other volunteers and equipping them with adequate Personnel Protection Equipment (PPE). Social security measures for them are extremely critical at this hour.
5. The Department of Women and Child Development should issue an advisory to all ICPS as per the Supreme Court directions dated 3rd April 2020. (https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/consider-releasing-children-from-observation-homes-on-interim-bail-amid-covid-19-sc-154751).
6. The government must ensure that schools are equipped with safe drinking water and adequate hygiene facilities. After school resumes, sitting arrangements should also be made in a manner that physical distance could be maintained along with regular sanitization of the school and its neighbouring premises. 
School-based protocols to identify, track, manage and support the child should be prepared, and adequate orientation of headteachers should be ensured. It should be ensured that the schools used for quarantine, are disinfected properly before they are reopened.

To ensure right to education

1. Additionally, it is essential to provide for educational support to all children so that children continue to learn and build resilience to cope with the current situation. This will also address the risks of children falling prey to child labour, trafficking, child marriage and large-scale drop-out from school. 
Online programmes are not accessible to the majority of children in the country. Therefore the use of free offline communication media (including Radio and Doordarshan) to broadcast /telecast innovative programmes should be implemented widely. Doordarshan should, in collaboration with NCERT/CBSE, telecast effective programs to help children understand different concepts grade-wise as a substitute for the online syllabus-based teaching. 
Any other technological solutions need to be designed carefully taking into account the existing differential access to technology across caste, income-levels, gender and communities so that it does not further exacerbate the prevailing inequalities in learning opportunities.
2. Offline programs should also focus on all children, including 3-6 years old. A task force for advising on TV Programmes should be constituted. Offline programs also have better reach to children.
3. Wherever possible, the children and parents within the vicinity of the neighbourhood school should be connected through WhatsApp groups comprising of SDMC/SMC members and parents. These WhatsApp groups can be used to keep in constant touch with parents (if teachers are not in the same locality) and children. 
These WhatsApp groups must be used only for matters relating to children's education and nothing else. Wherever necessary, the teachers can visit children to offer counselling or advise and ensure that the mental health of children is safeguarded. The same procedure needs to be followed in case of AWCs and Crèches. Educational materials could be provided along with relief and dry food packages by the Government.
4. The academic calendar should be revised immediately through every possible suitable arrangements and adjustment. Steps should also be taken to design and implement an accelerated learning curriculum focusing on foundational skills to recover lost instructional time when schools re-open. Simultaneously, reducing the syllabus load for all classes for 2020-21 and cancelling class examinations is urged.
5. Schools must be instructed to track all enrolled children, especially girls, once normalcy returns to ensure that no child drops out.
6. Incentives, PPEs and insurance should be provided to the teachers as they are being encouraged to visit home and make home delivery (textbooks, other educational materials) and hence are at risk. It is essential to look at equipping teachers with the necessary skills so that they are able to provide online/offline support to children during and post-pandemic.
7. Under the provisions of Section 10(2)(1) of the Disaster Management Act, an order must be issued to place a moratorium on private schools hiking or collecting any fees until normalcy is restored.
8. The government must ensure that all eligible children receive scholarships at the earliest and special incentives are given to girls to enable completion of their education.
9. In the long run, the Government needs to recognize the critical role that the public sector has played in the implementation of govt’s directives to curb the pandemic and increase investments in strengthening the public health and education systems.
We would also like to mention here, the proactive and critical role the Civil Society is playing in providing humanitarian relief and assistance to the people in need, particularly the marginalized communities. NITI Aayog has also appealed to NGOs to assist the Government in tiding over this situation. The Civil Society has extended collaboration and support in all possible ways to the Government in reaching out to the unreached at this hour of crisis.
Sir, it is our earnest request to you to strengthen this collaboration and partnership with the Civil Society and implement our suggestions so that people on the margins can access the support provided by the Government without any obstruction or hassle.
---
Click here for signatories

Comments

Jatin Goradiya said…
It doesn't affect the higher standard students but the students in 1st to 6th grade can not have online teaching in my opinion.
Recruitment https://scrollofsuccess.com/ job.

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

BSF should take full responsibility for death of 4 kids in West Bengal: Rights defender

By Kirity Roy*  One is deeply disturbed and appalled by the callous trench-digging by BSF in Chetnagachh village under Daspara Gram Panchayat, Chopra, North Dinajpur District, West Bengal that has claimed the lives of four children. Along the entire stretch of Indo-Bangladesh border of West Bengal instead of guarding the actual border delineated by the international border pillars, BSF builds fences and digs trenches well inside the Indian territory, passing through villages and encroaching on private lands, often without due clearance or consent. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Don't agree on domestic subsidies, ensure food security at WTO meet: Farmer leaders

Counterview Desk  The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM), a top network of farmers’ organizations in India, in a letter to Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has asked him to “safeguard food security and sovereignty, even as ensuring peasants' rights" at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO MC 13), to take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi.

Students, lawyers, professors detained in Delhi for demonstrating in support of farmers

By Our Representative  About 25 protestors, belonging to the civil rights network, Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), a coalition of over 40 organisations, were detained at Jantar Mantar for holding a demonstration in support of the farmers' stir on Friday. Those detained included students, lawyers and professors, including Prof Nandita Narain and Prof N Sachin. 

Solar energy funding dips 9% in 2023; 2024 'kicks off' with US$1 billion investment

By Lakshmitha Raj*  Solar energy tech companies have already secured slightly over US$1 billion in funding in 2024 (till Feb 7, 2024) after total funding into Solar Energy companies in India fell 9% to US$1.55B in 2023 from US$1.7B in 2022. A total of 39 $100M+ rounds have been closed till date, with Delhi leading the city-wise funding, followed by Gurugram and Mumbai.

Social justice day amidst 'official neglect' of salt pan workers in Little Rann of Kutch

By Prerana Pamkar*  In India’s struggle for Independence, the Salt Satyagraha stands as a landmark movement and a powerful symbol of nonviolent resistance. Led by Mahatma Gandhi, countless determined citizens walked from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi in Gujarat. However, the Gujarat which witnessed the power of the common Indian during the freedom struggle is now in the throes of another significant movement: this time it is seeking to free salt pan workers from untenable working conditions in the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK).

Sharp 61-85% fall in Tech startup funding in India's top 'business-friendly' States

By Rajiv Shah Funding in Tech startups in top business-friendly Indian states has witnessed a major fall, a data intelligence platform for private market research has said in a series of reports it has released this month. Analysing Tech startup data of Telangana, Maharashtra, Delhi NCR, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, Tracxn Technologies Ltd , the Bengaluru-based research firm, finds that except for Kerala, funding witnessed a fall of anywhere between 61% and 85%.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Jallianwala massacre: Why Indian govt hasn't ever officially sought apology from UK

By Manjari Chatterjee Miller*  The king of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, apologized in July 2023 for his ancestors’ role in the colonial slave trade. He is not alone in expressing remorse for past wrongs. In 2021, France returned 26 works of art seized by French colonial soldiers in Africa – the largest restitution France has ever made to a former colony. In the same year, Germany officially apologized for its 1904-08 genocide of the Herero and Nama people of Namibia and agreed to fund reconstruction and development projects in Namibia. .