Life in the time of Covid-19: Mapping the impact of Covid- 19 on the lives of school going children especially girls in India
This report was published on November 26, 2020, by the Centre for Budget and Policy Studies, Bengaluru, on behalf of Champions for Girls’ Education, India – an initiative by the US-based organisation Malala Fund.
The report notes that Covid-19 and the lockdown has
severely affected children’s education
in India, especially that of girls. The government’s relief measures have been
inadequate and with limited reach, resulting in the violation of the rights to
food and education. It
seeks to understand the impact of Covid-19 on livelihoods in marginalised
communities and the consequences for children’s education; the effects of
lockdown and school closures on girls’ education; and institutional and policy
interventions that could lessen the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on girls’
report contains the results of a survey of 3,176 households – mainly from
marginalised communities – across 11 districts in Uttar Pradesh, eight in Bihar,
five in Assam, four in Telangana and one in Delhi. The survey was conducted
with the help of partner organisations from each state through door-to-door (73
per cent) and telephonic interviews (27 per cent).
This 32-page publication has six chapters:
Introduction (chapter 1); Who These Families Are (chapter 2); Impact of the
Pandemic on Livelihoods and Income (chapter 3); Impact of Covid-19 on Education
and Schooling (chapter 4); Response and Support: Inadequate to Address the
Distress (chapter 5) and Conclusions and Policy Recommendations (chapter 6).
Among the households interviewed, more than 87 per cent of the male members worked in the unorganised sector, while more than half of the women took part in unpaid domestic work.
The report states that around 85 per cent of the households received some support from the government. This was higher in Bihar (92 per cent of households) and UP (91 per cent) than it was in Telangana (44 per cent).
Roughly 83 per cent of households in Assam, and 64 per cent in Telangana, reported having received food through anganwadi centres. Fewer households in Bihar (20 per cent) and UP (18 per cent) obtained food through these centres.
During the lockdown, a higher proportion of girls had to bear the responsibility of household chores and care work (71 per cent) than boys (38 per cent). About 79 per cent of boys – compared to 60 per cent of girls – reported spending time on leisure activities. And 56 per cent of boys – as against 46 per cent of girls – were able to spend time on their studies.
Survey results indicate that the presence of technological devices in households does not guarantee access to them. Just 11 per cent of children reported viewing or listening to educational broadcasts via television or radio, whereas 52 per cent reported having these devices at home.
All but 17 of the 3,176 households interviewed owned a mobile phone. Yet, only 30 per cent of children with phones at home were able to access the device at any time.
The report states that technology-based education has widened existing gaps in accessing education. This makes children from marginalised sections – especially girls – more vulnerable during the pandemic. Only 26 per cent of girls had access to phones, as opposed to 37 per cent of boys. Moreover, phones were owned by a male family member in 71 per cent of cases.
During the lockdown, girls were expected to contribute to domestic chores more often than boys. Their access to electronic devices for e-learning was also low, even if the household owned one. These gender differences could result in a high number of girls dropping out of schools, especially since social norms already devalue their education.
The report recommends that the government implement measures to enable continuity in education according to the provisions of the Right to Education Act, 2009; formulate decentralised and context-specific plans to simplify the school reopening process; provide adequate support to teachers; and safeguard students from dropping out due to economic distress.
Focus and Factoids by Meghashree Dev.
Centre for Budget and Policy Studies, Bengaluru
Centre for Budget and Policy Studies, Bengaluru; Champions For Girls’ Education, India
26 Nov, 2020