The Future of Indian Children's Education is at Risk

Here are the disquieting results of a survey across 15 Indian states by Child Rights NGO ‘Save the Children’, that analyses the plight of children’s education after COVID-19. Also, numbers that describe the global outlook.

Child Rights NGO Save the Children has conducted a rapid needs assessment to “understand challenges, thematic priorities and impact of coronavirus among target beneficiaries” and the results, especially with regard to children’s education, and the financial health of households, are concerning. 

The survey encompasses 7235 families across 15 Indian states between June 7th to June 30th, 2020. 

Disturbing Figures 

- 62% of households had discontinued children’s education. The highest proportion was in Northern India (64%), and the lowest in the South (48%). 

- 2/5ths of households reported children not receiving mid-day meals. Regionally this figure was the aggregate of 52% households in Western India, 39% in the North, 38% in South India and 28% in East India. 40% of urban and 38% of rural children weren’t receiving mid-day meals. 

- The above is especially troubling because 40% of people were unable to provide adequate meals and 8/10th of households reported a loss in their incomes.  Lack Of Support  - Anindit Roy Chowdhury, director of programmes and policy impact, Save the Children, India, pointed to the lack of support to households, in the context of children’s education.

- 2/5ths of households reported not receiving any support from the school or education department for their children’s education: 52% of the households from Eastern India, 40% in Southern India, 39% in the North and 34% from Western India. Overall, 42% of households in rural India and 40% in urban India did not receive any kind of education support. 

- 14% of households did not have a smartphone or the required internet

connection bandwidth to attend online sessions. Because of schools being closed, 4/10ths of children were “playing at home with learning” and 1/4th were “working at home”.  Crucial Challenges: Lack of Employment & Savings  - 74% of households reported lack of livelihood opportunities. 

- 80% reported acute shortage of cash. 

- 45% of households had started taking distress measures like credit, mortgage and loan. 

- 1/10th of households had to sell household items and assets. 

- 1 in 5 households have not been receiving ration under PDS (Public Distribution

System): 27% of households in North India, 17% in the West, and 7% in East and South India.  Further Challenges Expected: Analysis from Anindit Roy Chowdhury - Roy Chowdhury said that once migrant workers return home from other states they may have a house, but not a livelihood.

- He also said this indicated a great overall burden on the rural economy. “Food scarcity was obvious at urban level but now we are seeing that at the rural level also livelihood has taken a big hit and this has repercussions.”

- He is worried about an exponential increase in child labour, and trafficking growth for child labour, domestic servitude and commercial sexual exploitation, as well as an increase in child marriage. 

- However he cautioned that this rapid needs assessment comprised too little data, taken too soon, to predict a “particular trend”.  Global Perspective: Save the Children & UNESCO Save the Children also published a report titled Save our Education where it published figures pertaining to the world at large that were also troubling. Here they are. 

- 9.7 million children affected by school closures may never go back to class. 

- 1.6 billion youth, or around 90% of the world’s student population, were shut out of school and university due to measures to contain COVID-19. 

- The economic fallout of the COVID-19 crisis could force 90-117 million children into poverty having an effect on school admissions. 

- The report lists 12 countries - Nigeria, Chad, Mali, Liberia, Afghanistan, Guinea, Yemen, Pakistan, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Niger and Mauritania - as nations where children are most at risk of falling behind. 

- Prior to the pandemic close to 258 million children and adolescents were missing out on school already.

- This crisis can potentially cause a shortfall of around USD 77 billion in education budgets of low and middle income countries by the end of 2021.   You can read more about the Save the Children’s rapid needs assessment with regard to India here:

You can read the Save our Education report here:

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