November 19, 2020

Education | Insights from Charcha 2020

Education in the times of COVID

The education sector faces a new reality. Now is the time to recognize that there is an opportunity to build back a stronger and more resilient education system for our children.  

Nonprofits in education have innovated on new ways of reaching and engaging children in education, built education technology and made it freely available to all actors in this space: parents, students, teachers and school administrators.Several state governments have swiftly adopted digital platforms to ensure continued education.

Smartphone penetration at an individual level may be small but at a household level it is likely close to 66% of households.

Bridging the digital divide

While digital media has and will be instrumental in enabling education, there is a risk of the digital divide. Other media like television and radio are being explored, with a design for closed loop communication using feature phones. Nonprofits are leveraging their presence and relationships in communities to connect all habitations in a two way communication channel.

Changing roles of parents and communities

“Gharpe school” requires Integration of parents into education and engaging the household and parents take an active role to enable their children’s education. The role of fathers has deepened due to their availability at home.

One of the big challenges is that virtual learning is not enough- kids will need mental, social, emotional learning and extra-curricular activities.

Socio-emotional learning

This is the time to stabilize and use this disruption to set in place a framework for education that gives adequate importance to socio-emotional learning. Even as teachers and students adapt to delivery of academic content in a remote setting, educators can utilize the lockdown to engage children in life lessons and leverage life experiences that children are going through.Migrants returning are coming with unique life experiences to the village.Families are adapting to a different domestic environment and gender roles.Each of these are opportunities to expand learning beyond the classroom.

Challenges and way forward

The biggest challenge ahead is in recovering lost ground on enrolments in school.We are facing dropouts in large numbers. 5-6 lakh people are on barefoot migration, so children in many families will not come back to school without external support.

There are high levels of anxiety, loss of dignity & learning, trauma and failure to thrive in students. There is uncertainty, fear and anxiety for children enrolled in higher education who fear whether they will have the same opportunities for employment. If there are no jobs in the private sector then people will prepare for the government jobs. And today, in the covid times it seems education, health and basic sustenance are interlinked more than ever. 

Sexual and child abuse have risen during the lockdown. Childline witnessed 92k calls in the first 11 days of lockdown which included both women and children.

All these challenges require far higher investments in education than in the past.We need to be innovative in financing education through “pay for results”instruments like Developmental and Social Impact Bonds, and through blended finance models to augment philanthropic and public capital for education.

Pressure points

  • Varying degrees of parental involvement in children’s education
  • Deepening of learning gaps due to the digital divide
  • Lower enrolment in budget private schools in the short term
  • Need for responsive public school systems
  • Increased need for socio-economic learning due to distress and trauma
  • Risk of widening the gender gap, and retaining the girl child in formal education

Download the full Insight report on Charcha 2020, covering 16 events and 150+ hours of discussion.

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