December 5: Thousands of students are losing access to education as a result of school closures in numerous states, including Delhi. According to estimates, more than 20 lakh pupils in Delhi alone have dropped out of school, out of a total of two crore in the country.
Educationists are now demanding to open the schools "at any cost".
According to Ashok Agarwal, President of All India Parents Association (AIPA), in such a "critical situation", it is absolutely unnecessary to keep the schools shuts just because of pollution.
Citing his assessment, Agarwal said that "more than" 20 lakh students have dropped out due to the shutdown of schools in the national capital. "These include more than one lakh disabled students. While the total figure of school dropouts across the country is more than two crores," he noted.
The second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic is currently waning in Delhi and across the country.A third wave is expected, according to experts. Meantime, many students, parents, and parent organisations want all schools to be open to everyone.
According to renowned educationist C.S. Kandpal, the problem of dropout has arisen due to continuous lack of connection of students with schools, teachers, classmates and regular classes for a long time.
The problem is bigger especially amongst the sections with whom the facility and resources of online classes are not fully available.
"According to an estimate, about 30 per cent students of government schools are 'dropouts'. We should not overlook the fact that the best and safest place for children is school. Shutting down schools for a long time is like giving rise to social evils like child labour, sexual harassment, and disease, among others. Why can't schools start when all other activities have started in corona unlock," AIPA told IANS.
The Union Education Ministry is also aware of the problem of dropout amongst students.The ministry says that a policy to bring down the school dropout rate is being worked upon with all the states.
It further states that the aim of the "New Education Policy 2020" is to reintegrate out-of-school youth into society.Each state will compile data on such children in order to track their progress.The ministry has created a portal and online module called 'Prabandhan' to help with this.
In view of pollution, schools in Delhi and some neighbouring cities have been directed to remain shut.The Delhi government also believes that with the onset of the pandemic, there has been a massive loss of students' studies.
"This year, there is a need not only to bridge the learning gap of children, but also to provide emotional support to them. Also, students need to be mentally prepared again for the teaching-learning process."
At the same time, the Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan says that the target is to ensure 100 per cent enrolment of children in schools across the country during the next nine years. The Union Ministry of Education has set this target under the New Education Policy.
Pradhan noted that by the year 2030, there is a target of 100 per cent gross enrolment in schools.