New Delhi: At least 80% of Indian children between the ages of 14 and 18 reported lower learning levels during the COVID-19 pandemic than when they were physically in school, according to a UNICEF report.
Noting that repeated school closures have resulted in alarming inequalities in learning opportunities for children in South Asia, the report by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) noted that 76 % of parents of students aged 5 to 13 reported a drop in learning levels during distance learning.
“School closures in South Asia have forced hundreds of millions of children and their teachers to switch to distance learning in a region with poor connectivity and accessibility of devices. Even when a family has access to technology, children do not always have access to it. As a result, children have suffered huge setbacks in their learning journey, ”said George Laryea-Adjei, UNICEF Regional Director for South Asia.
In India, 42% of children aged 6 to 13 reported not using any type of distance learning during school closings.
“This means they haven’t used any of the following for distance learning since the schools were closed: textbooks, worksheets, phone or video calls, WhatsApp to access materials or connect with teachers, programs learning on radio or television, YouTube videos, video lessons, learning apps, teacher home visits and one-to-one lessons, community education in local places, other websites ” , indicates the report.
“At least 42% of students aged 5-13 and 29% of students aged 14-18 have no contact with their teachers at all,” he said.
UNICEF called on governments to prioritize the safe reopening of all schools while ensuring children are able to pursue quality distance learning when needed.
“The safe reopening of schools should be seen as a top priority for all governments. At the same time, investing in teachers will ensure that teachers and schools can adapt to any situation. The more teachers are trained, equipped and supported in distance and blended learning, the better they will be able to reach all their students, ”added George Laryea Adjei.