UNICEF report highlighted that millions of S-Asian children suffer due to remote learning as schools are closing frequently as national government impose partial or complete lockdowns as Covid-19 cases rise. Also, the report elucidated that much of the learning is impacted due to lack of accessibility of electronic devices and stable internet connection for remote learning.
UNICEF highlight conditions that inhibit remote learning
“School closures in South Asia have forced hundreds of millions of children and their teachers to transition to remote learning in a region with low connectivity and device affordability,” said George Laryea-Adjei, UNICEF’s regional director for South Asia.
“Even when a family has access to technology, children are not always able to access it. As a result, children have suffered enormous setbacks in their learning journey.”
Authorities should place prime focus on the safe reopening of schools because, even before the pandemic, nearly 60 percent of children in the densely populated region were unable to read and understand a simple text by the age of 10, the UN children’s agency said on Thursday.
UNICEF research on S-Asian falling education during the pandemic
South Asian countries were already facing the crisis of education and the repeated school closures have worsened the situation. In a report based on research in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, UNICEF elucidated that since last year remote learning has affected 434 million children in South Asia and a substantial proportion of them were learning significantly less compared with pre-pandemic levels.
In India, 80 percent of children aged 14 to 18 reported lower levels of learning than when physically at school, while 42 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 13 reported no remote learning during school closures.
In Sri Lanka, 69 percent of parents of primary school children said their children were learning less or a lot less.
In Pakistan, 23 percent of younger children did not have access to a device for remote learning.
Reopening of schools is a better option than continued remote learning, Indian study
“The safe reopening of schools must be considered an utmost priority for all governments,” said Laryea-Adjei.
Indian educationalists and social scientists have asked authorities to foster such policies that ensure safe and rehabilitative opening of the school and claimed that the benefits outweigh the risks. It is because the students belonging to poor and underprivileged backgrounds can access education physically as they are missing out on online education which in long run will lead to large-scale school dropouts. So, the reopening schools decision is now or never.
So, the UNICEF report on remote learning impacting learning of S-Asian students highlight the crisis of education and safe re-opening of schools is a viable solution.
South Asia, with nearly 2 billion people, has reported more than 37 million coronavirus infections and more than 523,000 deaths added the UNICEF report.