Guidelines for Out of School Children and mitigation of loss of learning due of COVID-19
Guidelines for Out of School Children and mitigation of loss of learning
Nearly 250 million children have been affected due to school closures due to COVID-19 throughout the country. Although the Centre and States/UTs have taken several steps to ensure continuity in their learning and for preventing loss of learning and drop out as far as possible, some challenges that are being dealt with and that are likely to face us even after schools re-open are:
- Loss of learning as all children do not have access to online/digital learning resources as well as to other media such as Television or radio.
- Reverse migration from cities to the villages and subsequent return of the migrant families back to the cities with the opening up of the economy, causing a disruption in children’s education.
- Instances of child labour in an attempt by families to augment their income in view of the impact on household earnings and simply because children are at home.
- Apprehension amongst parents against sending their children to schools even in the event of the schools re-opening as evident from the low attendance in many areas where schools have partially re-opened.
- Child marriages may also be seen in view of financial constraints faced by the parents along with an uncertain future and simply because girls/children are not being seen doing anything being at home.
- Psychological impact on the children due to increase in stress levels, lack of interaction with peers and lack of outdoor activities.
- Increase in drop out and out of school children as a result of combination of the above factors.
- Higher impact is likely on the vulnerable sections of the population such as girls, SC, ST and CWSN students.
In order to mitigate the impact of these challenges, it is necessary for every State/UT to devise a proper strategy in order to prevent increased drop outs, lower enrolments, loss of learning and deterioration in the gains made in providing universal access, quality and equity in the recent years. Some of the suggested steps that need to be taken in this regard are as follows:
A. GUIDELINES AND NORMS
1. The guidelines on admissions and education of migrant children circulated vide this department’s letter no. 18-19/2020-IS-15 dated 13th July, 2020, must be strictly adhered to and data shared with the department.
2. The residential and non-residential special trainings have been approved under Samagra Shiksha, for nearly 8 lakhs Out of School Children already identified this year. While it may not be possible to undertake residential trainings till the situation normalizes, the non-residential mode of training may be continued through volunteers, local teachers, or other modes adopted by the states/UTs. They can visit the village/households of the identified children in the present situation with adequate safety precautions and consent of parents. In case it is required, the residential trainings may be got converted into non-residential mode for which separate proposal may be sent to the Department of SE&L.
3. For Children with Special Needs for whom Home Based Education has been approved, the same may be continued through volunteers/special educators visiting the homes of these children with adequate safety precautions and consent of the parents. The scope of home-based education may be expanded to larger number of Children with special needs.
B. IDENTIFYING OUT OF SCHOOL CHILDREN
4. States and UTs should conduct a comprehensive door-to-door survey by involving teachers, BRCs/CRCs with the help of SMCs to prepare a database of school-going age children; this database may be maintained and updated regularly to ensure that all children are enrolled and to identify out of school children, at the beginning of the next financial year.
5. As per the 75th round household survey by NSSO in 2017-18, the number of estimated OoSC in the country in the age group of 6 to 14 years is 96.93 lakh, whereas as per AWP&B data received from States/UTs, it is only 11 lakh. There is a stark difference in this identification of OoSC. Further, there are an estimated 3.11 crore out of school children in age group of 6-18 years. Also, as stated in NEP 2020, it must be a top priority of the country to bring Out of school children back into the educational fold as early as possible, and to prevent further students from dropping out, with a goal to achieve 100% Gross Enrolment Ratio in preschool through secondary school by 2030. Therefore, States and UTs should carry out proper identification of OoSC for 6 to 18 years age group, so that no child is left behind. The state wise details of Number of OOSC in different age groups as per NSSO estimation and that identified by the states is enclosed at Annexure-A.
C. ENROLMENT DRIVES AND AWARENESS GENERATION
6. Enrolment drives may be conducted at the beginning of next academic year such as Praveshotsav, Vidya Chalo abhiyan, school chalo abhiyan, Back to school campaign etc. These may be conducted not only for new admissions but also for welcoming existing children back to school.
7. Parents’ trust can be restored, and fears allayed for bringing children back to school through continuous dialogues between schools and parents. Awareness generation and dialogues need to be undertaken among parents and community for enrolling children in school and sending them regularly when the schools re-open. Media and Community Mobilization funds under Samagra Shiksha must be utilized for this purpose.
8. Practicing COVID-|9 appropriate behavior is no longer a choice, but an imperative. With the lockdowns ending, and even after we have a vaccine, focus on sustaining the practice of the 3 Corona appropriate behaviors- wear mask, keep 6 feet distance and washing hands with soap frequently and as needed must be emphasized upon. A continuous campaign must be undertaken for the same. IEC material for the same ‘including animation film, posters, infographics and wall painting designs has been shared vide this department’s letter no. 27-2/2020-IS-9 dated 06th November, 2020. Hand hygiene is a key condition for schools to re-open and operate safely. Safe reopening of schools includes access to hand hygiene, clean drinking water and safe sanitation, for which necessary steps may be taken before opening of schools. Budget provisions made under Samagra Shiksha under Composite School Grants, Safety and security in schools and for teachers must be made use of in this regard.
D. STUDENT SUPPORT WHILE SCHOOLS ARE CLOSED
9. Students to be provided requisite support including counseling, large-scale awareness programs and targeted home visits; Also, adequate publicity to be given to the Manodarpan web portal (http://manodarpan.mhrd.gov.in) and tele-counselling number (8448440632) so that the students can get access to counseling services and get psychosocial support. These numbers need to be communicated to all students through SMS, WhatsApp and guided on how to use the same.
10. Distribution of Educational Materials and Resources, supplementary graded material, workbooks, worksheets etc. may be undertaken, in addition to textbooks, with easy instructions, with the help of teachers, BRCs/CRCs to support home-based education to ensure continuity in learning.
11. Classroom on wheels and classes in small groups at village level by volunteer teachers may be explored wherever possible. A pool of grade-wise and subject-wise teachers who can help children both over phone and by visiting a group of children once a week or fortnight may be prepared. Some examples of this approach are Padhai Tuhar Dwar (Education at your doorstep) in Chattisgarh, Hamara ghar hamara vidyalaya in Madhya Pradesh and Vidyagama in Karnataka.
12. Increasing the access of children to online/digital resources, DTH channel, radio, community radio and other digital modes, to reduce learning loss and allowing their smooth transition to school.
13. Ensuring easy and timely access to the usual provisions of uniforms, textbooks and MDM would play an important role in ensuring that children continue in schools.
14. Timely provision of stipend to enrolled CWSN girls through DBT mode must be ensured.
15. Strengthen child protection mechanisms at the local level for reporting of violence against children and making them accessible to all children, especially since schools and other educational institutions are not functional.
E. STUDENT SUPPORT ON SCHOOL REOPENING
16. School Readiness Module/Bridge Course may be prepared and implemented in classrooms for initial one or two months for each grade. Once school reopens, the grade related syllabus should be undertaken only after the bridge course is completed, so that students can adjust to the changed school environment and do not feel the stress or left out, especially students who did not have access to alternate means of education.
17. Identification of students across different grades based on their learning levels can be done, especially for smaller classes, so that teachers can focus on those who need additional interventions.
18. Wherever states have amended their State RTE Rules to allow for detention in classes 5 and/or 8, they have given relaxation from detention this year. This would go a long way in preventing drop outs. States may like to keep a watch on the situation for any further considerations to prevent drop outs until the pandemic related situation stabilizes.
19. Two of the most important skills that a school going child needs to acquire and retain are the skills of reading with comprehension and numeracy skills. It is therefore important to do the following:
a. Ensure that every child reads a lot, and reads books beyond the syllabus, that are grade appropriate and are both, interesting and challenging. For this, the schools may permit children to borrow books from school libraries, and or suggest grade appropriate links from open and free online resources such as-https://storyweaver.org.in/, https://ndl.iitkgp.ac.in/, etc.
b. Creative writing is a great way to improve children’s written language skills. Teachers and parents may encourage this fun and imaginative activity on a weekly basis. If schools have not reopened, States/UTs may consider permitting children to host their creative writing, duly recommended by the schools, on a common portal.
c. States/UTs may consider giving one real-life situation based mathematical problem a day to each child to engage the child joyfully in mathematics. In this context, at least for grades 6-10, the Five-Questions-A-week hosted on DIKSHA by CBSE may be utilized. Also, identified mathematical games/board games/Apps may also be encouraged.
20. Implement large-scale remedial programs/Leaning enhancement programmes to mitigate learning loss and prevent exacerbation of learning inequality, with a focus on literacy and numeracy for primary-age children and accessibility accommodations for children with disabilities.
F. TEACHER CAPACITY BUILDING
21. Training of teachers, staff and students in Corona responsive behavior is essential. A training module for the same has been developed in collaboration with UNICEF which will be launched on DIKSHA portal soon. All teachers must undergo this online training programme.
22. Use of Alternative Academic Calendar prepared by NCERT for grade 1 to 12 will lead to joyful engagement of children in learning, therefore, teachers may be made aware of this calendar and trained on using it.