Covid-19: Over 247 million children affected in India due to closure of schools, says UNICEF

New Delhi, Mar 3 (UNI) Over 247 million children enrolled in primary and secondary schools in India, have been affected by the closure of nearly 1.5 million schools in India due to Covid-19 and lockdowns, a report by UNICEF said on Wednesday.
“In India, closure of 1.5 million schools due to the pandemic and lockdowns in 2020 has impacted 247 million children enrolled in elementary and secondary schools. In addition, there are over six million girls and boys who were already out of school even before the COVID-19 crisis began,” it said.
Since March last year, schools across India, have been closed as a precautionary measure against the spread of Covid-19. The classes were resumed partially, for selective classes, in several states from October.
E-education or online classes became the popular means to impart education.
But, the UN agency said only one out of four children in India has access to digital devices and internet connectivity.
“Pre-COVID, only a quarter of households (24%) in India had access to the internet and there is a large rural-urban and gender divide,” the report said.
The UN agency warned that if the crisis is not managed timely, it may result in “fewer chances” of a student returning to schools.
“….we must strive to support them in catching up on the learning they have missed. This is especially true for those who were not able to access digital or remote learning opportunities,” Dr Yasmin Ali Haque, UNICEF India Representative said.
Dr Haque warned about psychological problems which can arise in children due to staying away from school.
“…the mental health and well-being of children is a crucial concern, while psycho-social support from teachers, parents, and caregivers is a priority,” Dr Haque said.
Worldwide, schools for more than 168 million children have been completely closed for almost a full year because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund.
And about 214 million children around the world, or one in seven, have missed more than three-quarters of their in-person learning, UNICEF data showed.


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