New Delhi, August 5: There is a need to ensure involvement of parents and community members in education of children living in rural areas amid the COVID-19 pandemic, non-government organisations and experts said on Wednesday.
In an online discussion on ‘Restoring Childhood and Missed Schooling: Mitigating COVID Losses in Rural Primary Schools’, the experts highlighted the importance of classroom education and community support for children living in rural parts of the country specially in view of the absence of technological support.
Mary Punnoose, chief functionary at NGO Prajayatna, said there have to be local solutions that the communities are able to implement in order to ensure that children are least affected by the pandemic.
“In COVID times, children not only have lack of access to technology but also parental support which is not the case in urban households,” she said.
Challenges faced in providing education to children living in rural India include lack of connectivity and lack of tools or skills on the part of the parents to engage the children in a constructive manner, she noted.
Tultul Biswas, coordinator at NGO Eklavya, said schools’ closure has also taken away space where children could meet friends, could play, learn and engage meaningfully and could get out of the kind of stress that usually happens in such extreme situations.
“The space of getting away has been taken away from children. That is the reality being faced especially the rural children whose families are undergoing a lot of socio-economic stress,” she said.
In given times of challenges, teachers, parents and even children have come together to look at ways to educate the children, Biswas said.
Hridyakant Dewan, Professor at Azim Premji University, said there is a need to ensure that the morale of the teacher is kept high because at the end of the day it is the teacher who will ensure that proper education is imparted and there is also need to make the teacher feel valued.
“The COVID crisis has also generated possibilities that more and more parents are maybe beginning to look at government schools instead of private schools in rural areas,” he said.
Satyajit Salian, head of education at Tata Trusts, noted that COVID has had a disproportionate effect with respect to rural and urban schools.
“While urban schools have bounced back, the rural schools are still looking for solutions,” he said.
He said COVID has awakened everyone to true reality and made the walls of schools “porous” and education has now extended beyond these four walls.
“We need to have a plan of action to redefine this new ownership to engage parents in remedial learning of children,” he said. (PTI)