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COVID-19 widened gap between rich and poor children: Atishi

'Delhi schools back to dealing with basic issue of ensuring children get enrolled'

42-Atishi Atishi

The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the gap between children belonging to rich and poor backgrounds when it comes to access to education, leading to a situation where Delhi government schools are back to dealing with the basic issue of ensuring children get enrolled, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Atishi said at the Harvard India Conference 2021.

Atishi, who is known to have played an important role in the revamp of Delhi government schools, said at the prestigious conference held on Monday that in India, the quality of education worsens as one goes down the economic spectrum, and this gap has deepened even more during the pandemic.

She shared that pre-Covid, the Delhi government schools had crossed the access barrier and were focusing more on bridging the learning gaps. However, with COVID-19, government schools are back to dealing with the issue of enrollment of students, she said.

“What we have effectively had in one year is a very large segment of children who have just not had access to any formal education. I think this gap that has been created is a very serious one,” said Atishi, who was speaking on the topic 'Tackling unequal access to education worsened by COVID-19'.

She added that while education in elite private schools has been virtually uninterrupted, in government schools, the situation was a lot different since students did not have laptops or mobile phones or WiFi at home and these children ended up missing an entire year.

Atishi emphasised on the role of the family and community in shaping a child's future. “The real outcome of COVID times for me is not as much the question of continuing online education, but the growing role of parents, the family and the community. It is something we can really build upon,” she said.

She said that in the past year, Delhi government schools have regularly reached out to parents to keep them in the loop and enquire about challenges faced at home. These scheduled calls made by the school management committee, she said, further build on the relationship between the school and the home. “In the past five to six years, the Delhi government school model has been appreciated for its attention to parent-teacher interaction through regular meetings, and the pandemic has further strengthened the idea of involving parents in the teaching and learning process,” she said.

Atishi said that while the government will be in a position to open schools in July-August 2021, the biggest challenge would then be to deal with the learning loss.


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