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Parliamentary Report: Bridging the COVID-19 Learning Gap in Schools [PDF 1.44 MB]

Street/homeless children studying in a roadside class in New Delhi on August 2, 2021. As schools across the city continue to remain shut amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, many such class are running to see that homeless children were not cut-off from learning. Photo: Sandeep Saxena/The Hindu.

The full text of the report, "Plans for Bridging the Learning Gap caused due to School Lockdown, as well as Review of online and offline Instructions and Examinations and Plans for re-opening of Schools", by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sports [PDF 1.44 MB], can be accessed here:

REPORT

[An excerpt from the Report]

1. Emerging pandemics and natural calamities throw a challenge to humanity and emphasizes the need for Governments, societies, organisations and individuals to be better prepared and equipped to deal with such situations. The outbreak of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus, better known as COVID-19, was reported towards the fag end of the year 2019 in a few places, but with its rapid spread across several countries of the world within a short span, the World Health Organisation (WHO), under the International Health Regulations, declared this outbreak as a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern” (PHEIC) on 30th January, 2020. Subsequently, WHO declared COVID-19 as a pandemic on 11th March, 2020. The pandemic has forced the world to grasp a new normal, with restrictive measures like self isolation, wearing of facial masks, social/physical distancing, lockdown, case detection, contact tracing, quarantine of exposed persons, containment zones where large number of persons were infected etc. being put in place across the world to contain the spread of this highly infectious virus. The Government of India along with the State Governments also adopted inter-sectoral proactive, pre-emptive and graded response/policies and priorities by adopting various strategies including the above-mentioned steps as well as national and statewise lockdown and contingent plans during various lockdown and unlock phases to combat and contain the spread of COVID-19. The pandemic has thus affected all spheres of our normal activities and set new normal/standards in the way we live, work, study and play. The education sector was drastically affected by this sudden onslaught of the pandemic and had to make swift adjustments to adapt to the situation.

2. In the year 2020, COVID-19 pandemic affected educational systems world-wide leading to closure of schools, colleges and Universities. Indian education system also saw the largest disruption in history affecting nearly 32 Crore students population enrolled in various schools/colleges and Universities. The sudden closure left very little time for the system to prepare a strategy and transition to distance learning. The crisis exacerbated pre-existing education disparities by reducing the opportunities for many of the most vulnerable children, youth and adults. It also posed challenges for schools/colleges/Universities to shift to digital mode of teaching with technological tools due to interruption of face to face (one-on-one) conventional teaching mode. Neither the teachers nor the students got enough time to prepare themselves for the new online education system, which had to be adopted hastily in this unique situation to continue the stream of education unabated. Despite of a few initial teething problems, the Ministry of Education and other organizations in the field rose to the occasion and took various steps/measures to broaden the outreach of online/digital education and remote learning and ensure its accessibility to all students in all strata of society. Still, this method is in the initial evolving phase in the country.

3. Priortising education recovery is crucial to avoid generational catastrophe. Children learning has suffered immensely and because education sector also provides help, nutrition and psychological services, the overall welfare of the children has declined substantially. Accordingly, with a view to assess the preparedness of the education sector during the pandemic, the ground realities and to assess whether any learning loss has been caused due to school lockdown and discontinuation of physical (face to face) classes as well as to suggest a way forward to be better equipped and prepared to deal with such situations in future, the Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sports decided to examine in detail the Subject “Plans to Bridge the Learning Gap caused due to School Lockdown as well as Review of Online and Offline instructions and examinations and plans for re-opening of Schools.”

 

 
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