Impact of School Closure – UPSC GS2

How Covid-19 Pandemic has impacted School Closure in India:
  • UNICEF estimated that school closures affected about 250 million children in India.
  • The primary “reason” being provided for school closure is to “protect children”.
  • Some medical professionals have argued that COVID-19 vaccines are necessary for children as otherwise children may carry the infection from school back home to adults.
What are the Consequences of School Closure on Children Welfare?
  • Deprivation of Learning Skills: It is observed that reading and writing levels of children have declined, with nearly half of them unable to read more than a few words. More than a third of them were not studying at all.
  • Mental Health Issues: The U.K. has reported alarming increases in mental health issues among kids. American Academy of Paediatrics called the mental health crisis among children a national emergency.
  • Increasing Issue of Malnutrition: Malnutrition has become a serious problem since the closed schools deprived children from mid-day meals.
  • Child Labour: Decades of progress against the severe malice of child labour has been reversed due to extended school closure. As per the 2011 Census, we had an estimated 10.1 million children in child labour.
  • Increased Exposure to Violence and Exploitation: When schools shut down, early marriages increase, sexual exploitation of girls and young women rises, teenage pregnancies become more common, and child labour grows.
  • Digital Divide deepening the already existing Inequalities: School closures have led classes to be moved online. Millions of children from poor families were left disadvantaged as they did not have access to digital devices and the internet.
  • Unsuitability of online education: Online education would be a poor replacement for physical classes as children, especially in primary and pre-primary classes, can learn efficiently only through human interactions with teachers and peers.
Initiatives Taken:
  • ‘Happy 2022, Happy for Kids Too’ Initiative: A group of professors and eminent persons have started an initiative, ‘Happy 2022, Happy for Kids Too’, which has been endorsed by various epidemiologists, doctors and educationists.
  • UNICEF’s Framework for Reopening Schools: This framework is issued jointly with UNESCO, UNHCR, WFP and the World Bank, and offers practical advice for national and local authorities to prioritize the unique needs of every student.
  • Education is a constitutional right. Prolonged school closures and the lack of quality and accessible online education is a violation of children’s rights.

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