A roundtable meeting with the Hon’ble Members of Jharkhand Legislative Assembly held today at old Vidhan Sabha Club. The aim of this roundtable meeting was to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on Education in the state.  Around 10 MLAs such as Purnima Niraj Singh, Anant Kumar Ojha, Pushpa Devi, Umashankar Akela, Kishan kumar Das, Vinod Kumar Singh among others participated in the meeting and shared their views on this issue.

Addressing the round table meeting as Chief Guest, Shri Rabindra Nath Mahato, Hon’ble Speaker of Jharkhand Legislative Assembly said, “I appreciate UNICEF for facilitating a roundtable meeting on the education crisis, which is the most relevant issue at this time. As we know that pandemic has affected every walks of life, but it has affected children and students’ the most. They are out of school for more than a year and a half, which has affected their overall development. Although the government has taken many steps to ensure continuing education through online medium, it does not fulfil the role of traditional medium of education.”

“School closure has not only affected children’s day to day life but also created many problems in their life. The loss children facing in terms of their education is irreparable. We all need to work on that to ensure that this loss could be reduced through innovative initiatives,” the Hon’ble Speaker added.

Purnima Niraj Singh, MLA, INC, Jharkhand, said, “School closure has impacted children’s education. Dropout is also big challenge. Legislators can take up children’s issues in assembly. We need to address parent’s concern, so that they send their children to school. We all need to work together with the Government as responsible citizens and custodians of children’s rights.”

Mr Prasanta Dash, Chief UNICEF Jharkhand Field Office said, “As senior classes have started and the Govt is preparing for reopening of primary and upper primary classes, we need to focus together on how children can safely return to school.  Schools alone cannot ensure safety, if safety at home and in the community is not aligned. Parents and families need to be engaged in these efforts. Legislators can facilitate this process by engaging with school principals and facilitating this process as duty bearers. They can monitor how many children are coming back to school in their constituencies. Similarly, they can promote safety protocols in schools along with Covid appropriate behaviour (CAB) for their longer term safety.” 

Presenting the Charter of Demands on Education which was prepared in consultation with 464 children of Jharkhand by UNICEF & NINEISMINE, Ms Astha Alang, Communication Officer said, “School closures impact on students’ learning, health, and well-being (physical and mental) at critical developmental stages with profound repercussions for each child, their family, and their economy. Re-opening schools is important, as children learn best in person and to prevent learning loss. Schools are central to children’s learning, development, safety, and well-being. This roundtable is an initiative to bring focus on children’s issues and how we as responsible citizens can recover education.”

Briefing about the learning crisis created due to COVID-19 pandemic, Ms Parul Sharma, Education Specialist, UNICEF Jharkhand said, “While attempts have been made to move towards digital education to ensure minimal disruption in learning, the state, like the rest of the country, Jharkhand has witnessed a huge digital divide. Data suggests that 12-14 lakh children have been reached with digital learning resources through WhatsApp groups in Jharkhand. Children from rural areas and marginalized communities, who were already disadvantaged, have consequently been left further behind their more privileged peers. Girls have been less likely to get digital access or home based academic support. Moreover, these resources may not substitute the learning environment and engagement that school provides.”

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