The Pandemic’s big disruption of Schooling calls for Close Analysis : Daily Current Affairs

Date: 08/12/2022

Relevance: GS-2: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education, Human Resources; Vulnerable sections of the society.

Key Phrases: COVID 19 Pandemic, Lockdown, School Closures School Dropout, Out-of-School, Online Education, Digital Divide, Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, Article 45, Article 51A (K).


  • The Delhi-based Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy recently released a report that synthesizes evidence on out-of-school children in the country from across different state and non-state sources.
  • This compilation of covid-specific surveys conducted from April 2020 to June 2022 found that the proportion of children who were not enrolled in a school, or had dropped out, ranged from 1.3% to 43.5%.

Key Highlights:

  • Major crises, such as the covid pandemic that took hold in March 2020 exacerbate challenges faced by children in accessing education.
  • The pandemic disruption has had a significant impact on schooling across the world, with the United Nations having estimated that 24 million learners (from the pre-primary to university level) may never return to school, globally.
  • Many efforts were made during this period to document the experiences of parents and children in accessing schooling in India, across geographies and communities, and by various organizations.

Constitutional Provisions For Child Education:

  • The 86th Amendment Act 2002
    • It has inserted Article 21(A) as a Fundamental Right providing free and compulsory education for the children of six to fourteen years.
  • Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009
    • It aims at universalizing free and compulsory elementary education for all, India’s Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009.
    • It holds local authorities responsible for maintaining a record of children (up to the age of 14 years) residing in their jurisdiction.
    • It will ensure that they are enrolled in schools, attending the same, and thereby on their way to completing their elementary education.
  • Article-45
    • As amended by 86th Amendment Act 2002, now directs the state to provide early childhood care and education for all children until they complete the age of six years.
  • Article 51 A(k)
    • It is a fundamental duty, as newly inserted by 86th Amendment Act 2002, in Article 51 A(k) that a parent or guardian is to provide opportunities for education to his child or ward, between the age of six and fourteen years.

Impediments to Achieve the Constitutional Goal of Child Education

  • Despite vast improvements made since then by the country towards achieving this goal, In India a large number of children continue to be out of school.
  • The explanation for which can be traced to various multi-dimensional factors, including poverty, disability, poor health, child marriage, child labour, migration, discrimination, and so on.

Challenges Originated from COVID 19 Pandemic

  • Prolonged Schools Closure
    • India, notably, saw one of the longest periods of school closures during the pandemic, compared to other countries in the world. They lasted almost two years.
    • Prolonged absenteeism can cause long-term adversities for children’s learning and their retention in schools.
  • Absenteeism
    • Even where children continued to be enrolled in schools, they remained absent for prolonged periods, due to the over-reliance on digital modes of schooling during school closures.
  • Digital Divide
    • During this time, absenteeism was largely a function of inaccessibility to digital devices or the internet.
    • Across compiled studies and surveys, inaccessibility of devices ranged from 10% to 97%.
    • Inaccessibility of internet connectivity as a means to participate in online classes ranged similarly from 11% to 91%.
    • The proportion of children who ‘did not receive any online education’ ranged from 10% to 60%, with one study reporting that 43% of students had not accessed any online education for a period of up to 19 months (since the start of pandemic in March 2020).
  • Gender Divide
    • Increased domestic responsibilities especially for girls are impairing the atmosphere of learning.
    • According to a recent UN report, only 29% of all internet users are female, which indicates that transitions to digital learning may compound the gender gap in education.
  • Limitation of Online Education
    • Despite the country’s increased penetration of smartphones, with parents reported to be investing more and more to get their children access, many Indian households could not overcome India’s digital divide.
    • Parents complain of increased screen time for children, aren’t comfortable with technology themselves and increased pressure from the added household work due to the absence of domestic help adds to their problem.
    • Children who had smartphones, laptops, television sets and so on at their disposal, the accessibility of academic content—in terms of the use of local languages, sign-language interpretation for those with hearing disabilities, etc—effectively meant that online classes were fruitless for many.
  • Lack of Vernacular Content
    • Most of the content and existing lectures on the internet are in English.
    • In India, the Ministry of HRD data shows that there are only 17% English medium schools.
  • Vulnerable Learners of the Society Hit Hard by the Pandemic
    • Children belonging to poorer households, lower caste groups and migrant households, apart from students with various disabilities, have been reported as being absent from online classes or having dropped out of school altogether.

Silver Lining

  • The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) survey, which is facilitated by Pratham Education Foundation, captured a decline in the proportion of children not currently enrolled in the 15-16 age group — the one in which the risk of dropping out is the highest.
  • In 2010, the proportion of 15-16-year-olds who were out of school was 16.1%.
  • Driven by the government’s push to universalise secondary education, this number has been steadily declining and stood at 12.1% in 2018.
  • The decline continued in 2020 to 9.9% and to 6.6% in 2021


  • After the historic disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, most schools are back open worldwide but education is still in recovery assessing the damage done and lessons learned.
  • As we try to recuperate from nearly 24 months of school closures and strive to bring children back to school, it is crucial we understand who has been left vulnerable to dropping out of or being absent from school for prolonged periods of time—and why.
  • We can only hope that making sense of ‘why’ will help us minimize the challenges faced in accessing education in times of crisis.

Source: Live mint

Mains Question

Q. The pandemic and consequent lockdown have had a profound impact on schooling across the world, especially among the vulnerable section of the society. Discuss. (250 Words).