AAP MLA Atishi said that over the past one year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a large number of students were unable to access any kind of formal education and the ensuing gap is a very disturbing one. She was speaking at the Harvard-India conference 2021 on the topic ‘Tackling Unequal Access to Education Worsened by COVID-19’ on Monday.
“In India, the quality of education worsens as you go down the economic spectrum. But during the pandemic, the gap deepened even more,” said Ms. Atishi. She added that pre-COVID-19, the Delhi government schools had crossed the access barrier and were focusing more on the learning barrier. However, with COVID-19, government schools are back to dealing with student enrolment.
The AAP MLA was joined by Shaheen Mistri, CEO of Teach for India, Rukmini Banerji, CEO of Pratham Education Foundation and Emmerich Davies, Assistant Professor of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, for the discussion.
Access to education
“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 Ms. Atishi. She added: “Education in elite private schools has been virtually uninterrupted but in government schools, there are no laptops, mobile phones or Wi-Fi at homes and children have missed an entire year.”
She added that during the lockdown, Delhi govt. schools have regularly reached out to parents to keep them in the loop and enquire about challenges faced at home. On whether students should be tested on what they have learnt during the year, Ms. Atishi said: “Rather than asking whether we should postpone board exams this year, we have to ask ourselves what are we assessing children on? ”