The UNICEF has been putting all efforts to get back to pre-COVID enrolment rates before the end of 2021, said Dr Madhulika Jonathan, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF Assam.
“One of our priorities is to get all children back in school for complete or partial in-person instruction before the end of 2021 – that is, to get back to pre-COVID enrolment rates,” Dr Jonathan said addressing a programme organised on the occasion of Children’s Day at Brahmaputra Heritage Centre in Guwahati on Sunday.
“Schools do not just provide instruction for children; they play a critical role in child welfare and development as they also encourage children at-risk of dropping out to remain in school, they provide nutritious meals and vaccinations, and they connect children with psycho-social support, particularly those who may experience violence in their homes. Recovering months of learning loss will be challenging for children and teachers, also from the health perspective,” she said.
As UNICEF celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, the World Children’s Day is a prime occasion for UNICEF India to take the opportunity to work with partners to find solutions emanating from learning loss occurred due to the closure of schools, across the country, she added.
According to U-DISE 2017-18, there were more than 84,000 children (Grades 1-12) in Assam who were out of school in a pre-COVID19 period. While the U-DISE+ 2019-20 report (state-level) states that 4.3 per cent students dropped out at primary level, 3.4 per cent at Upper Primary and 32.3 per cent at Secondary levels. This number may have increased in the pandemic times.
Speaking on the occasion, Assam Assembly speaker Biswajit Daimary said, “We want all our children to develop to their full potential and investing in their welfare will lead to development for the state. I am happy to see that children are getting opportunities to participate in initiatives where they learn about their rights and present their perspectives to policy makers.”
Guwahati Metropolitan Development Agency (GMDA) chief executive officer (CEO) Kausar
Jamil Hilaly lighted up the Brahmaputra Heritage Centre in colour blue as part of its efforts to stand in solidarity of children’s rights.
In the programme, 300 children from 10 Assam’s districts shared experiences of learning loss due to school closure, and presented a ‘charter of demands’ for improving learning as schools reopen in the state.
The demands are: the quality of government schools to be on par with private schools, with regular oversight from government authorities, all government schools with improves infrastructure to withstand earthquakes and have mandatory playground for children, trained teachers, especially for subject like Mathematics, Science and English, and provision of extra classes for all, reopening of school by taking classes in two shifts with appropriate measures.
Limitation of homework, classroom hours along with the provision for counseling to students, provision of scholarship for higher education, provisions of tablets and Anroid phones to children attending online classes and continuation of online classes irrespective of Covid-19 for children with disabilities.