While the health emergency and the livelihood emergencies caused by the Covid pandemic are evident, the education emergency has been hidden. The public education system in many parts of India, barring a few states, was closed for the greater part of the last year and a half. Hundreds of thousands of children, having lost one or both parents, and millions more affected by the loss of jobs and income, need to make a painful choice between working to support themselves and their families and coming back to school.
It is necessary to articulate practical steps to provide public education in a flexible but meaningful manner and advocate and organize for their implementation, taking into account the concrete conditions of the students and the likely course of the pandemic, which may return in different waves. Just as there have been “emergency rooms” to plan for and oversee the health emergency in states and districts that have done well, so too there must be a concerted effort to address the education emergency. Effectively, the majority of children in public schools must be considered “out of school”.
IT for Change is working with individuals and groups across the country to set up the National Coalition on the Education Emergency. The coalition is collaborating on three main activities:
- Education Support to schools and communities - Identify and share ideas, experiences and resources with one another so that relevant/innovative/practical ideas supporting student learning can spread across geographies, make these easily available to teachers continuously
- Social Mobilization - Create advocacy briefs to persuade governments and other key actors to take required actions – opening schools, safety measures, food/nutrition and other similar steps, curriculum and pedagogy support, additional funding, community involvement etc.
- Research - Conduct and collate research on the education emergency
More information on this project is available on the website maintained by IT for Change