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Impact of lockdown? 64% rural children may drop out: MPs apprised of new danger

By Our Representative 

The Right to Education (RTE) Forum, a civil rights group, has shared its concerns on existing educational scenario with Members of Parliament (MPs), telling them about the need to take a decision to send children back to school with adequate protection, even as underlining how education and social protection of children have been severely compromised in the current scenario.
The Forum organized a webinar with MPs to discuss the Covid-19 pandemic-induced challenges to continuing school education of millions of children in the country. MPs, including Dr Mohammad Jawed, Pradeep Tamta, and Vishambhar Prasad Nishad along with former MP Ravi Prakash Verma, education specialists, activists and representatives of other forums and civil society organisations were present.
Chairing the session, Prof Muchkund Dubey, former foreign secretary and President, Council for Social Development (CSD) said that though the New Education Policy (NEP) 2020 has pushed forward the goal of universalization of school education including the children from pre-primary to secondary level, but it won’t be realized without legal obligations.
There is an urgent need of strengthening of existing the RTE Act, he said, adding, the commitment of the government towards children’s rights must be enforceable by law and it must be implemented within a fixed time period. All developing countries have given priority to sending children to school to avoid tremendous loss to the nation. He added that we must make a decision to send children back to school with adequate protection to them as well as the teachers.


Dr Mohammad Jawed spoke about the challenges his constituency faces in the field of education because of lack of facilities. He said, he raised multiple questions on the compliance of the RTE Act guidelines, out of school girls and gender inclusive fund as well as timelines related to the NEP 2020, during the monsoon session of Parliament, but regretted, all his queries were answered vaguely by the Ministry of Education.
Pradeep Tamta spoke about the public-private partnership (PPP) model that the current government, stating, the step will completely take away the right to education from the marginalized children. Education is the nation’s duty towards its children and it cannot be a private responsibility, he added.
Questions on out of school girls and gender inclusive funds were raised in Parliament, but the  queries were answered vaguely
Ravi Prakash Verma reiterated the dismissal state of digital education that is currently endorsed India, even when it is not in reach of millions of children. He suggested that it is important to work at the grassroots with community members, civil society organisations (CSOs) and parents to bridge gap for the educating children who have had learning loss. He emphasized on creating a child friendly atmosphere in every village to revive learning that was lost during the last two years.
Vishambhar Prasad Nishad echoed the collective apprehensions about private education and its ill effects, expressing his disappointment for the government’s lack of political will towards children’s education even during the pandemic. He appealed CSOs to raise their voices to amplify their concerns.
Earlier welcoming the participants, Mitra Ranjan, coordinator, RTE Forum, presented the Forum’s demand to #Unlockeducation and requested MPs to take these demands to their respective constituencies to endorse them. He said that India’s lockdown is the world’s fourth longest and this has affected education, children’s psychosocial wellbeing especially it has disturbed social protection of children from marginalized section.
Quoting a survey, he said, 64% of children in rural India feared that they will have to drop out of school, only 15% of rural household had internet connection,80% of parents in government schools and 59% of parents in private schools reported that education was not effectively delivered.
He added, this is an indication of massive learning loss. When children need support the most, the education budget of 2021 has also been reduced. As per the data compiled by the Forum, there are 11.70% vacancies against the sanctioned posts of teachers, 12.70% of total sanctioned teachers are contractual, and 25.5% schools are RTE compliant out of 15 lakh schools in India.

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