The lost year

As the Delhi Govt has put nursery admissions on hold, parents are worried about the risk of losing a second year of education

With the Delhi Government putting nursery admissions on hold, will a cascading effect of other States also shutting down pre-schools and admissions begin? That is the anxiety and fear that many parents of younger children are currently experiencing. ‘Work From Home’ is not a reality for everybody, even some white-collar workers. Not every family either has family support or the assistance of domestic help to manage children, and that is just among India’s elite. Those less fortunate finally find themselves having to traverse a growing chasm that is the digital divide. Sure, the access to cheap over-the-air data has ensured that many do not get left behind and further auctions of spectrum for higher-speed 5G services will definitely help but without access to proper devices and with families too financially stressed to pay school fees, the risk of millions of children falling behind the curve looms large in India. In many rural schools, indeed in areas barely 25 kilometres outside Delhi, schools are still shut and ‘School From Home’ is not an option available to those parents. West Bengal Education Minister Partha Chatterjee has already announced that the Board examinations for Classes 10 and 12 will be held in June, unlike the usual schedule as per which these exams are held between February and March every year. The thought of another lost year for these children and their parents is truly terrifying and one that the Central and State Governments must work overtime to redress. Because the problems will really come home to roost in two decades’ time when a whole generation of children with partial education and poor social skills will join the workforce.

Sure, the best minds in the Government are working on how to deploy various vaccines to 1.3 billion people in a reasonable amount of time as they start rolling off the line. Hopefully, by the end of 2021 a significant number of Indians would have been inoculated against the COVID-19 pandemic. Other minds in North Block are working on how to jumpstart economic growth that has been chewed away by the virus. But we should start putting our best and brightest minds towards resolving the education issue because it will be the single biggest long-term impact of the Coronavirus, particularly in a nation where a large proportion of our population is still poor. We are often told that India is a country full of youth and that our young population will drive the nation’s economic growth. That can only happen if this young population is educated and capable of gainful economic contributions; else India can be deemed to be sitting on a time bomb with its uneducated demographic milieu. And this is something that all political parties have to work on together because this has the potential to destroy our nation.

Source: The Pioneer

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