Covid-19 has upended our social order. Never in India’s independent history has life been forced to shut down as much as we have experienced over the past 15 months. The devastating impact of the lockdown on livelihoods, jobs and incomes have been documented and discussed. But life for most elites went on largely unaffected, after a minor tech adjustment – Zoom calls, e-commerce, and entertainment streaming.
One area where the impact of the lockdown has not been discussed as much as it should have been is perhaps education. Children from affluent families transitioned to online schooling almost seamlessly and hence did not lose out on schooling. Although a full year of being stuck in front of a computer in their rooms has taken a huge toll on their mental health.
But the lockdown affected the under-privileged kids in a completely different manner. Prashnam decided to find out the extent of damage. In the six Hindi-speaking states of Bihar, Haryana, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh, we asked respondents the following question:
Then we asked the parents of children studying in class V to XII about the impact of lockdown on their ward’s education: whether they transitioned seamlessly to online school.
52 per cent of parents surveyed said their children missed their classes due to lockdown. Less than a third attended online school and were not as impacted. The digital divide is evident in their responses.
Expectedly, there are wide differences in responses among these six states. Children in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh were severely impacted while half of all children in Haryana claimed not to have been impacted and transitioned smoothly to online schooling.
There are roughly 115 million school-going children in these six states combined. Which means, nearly 60 million children in these six states lost a year of learning due to Covid-19 lockdown and may have missed their classes.
Examinations to class XII and X were justifiably cancelled due to the lockdown after intense pressure on the Narendra Modi government. But millions of children missing classes has not elicited the attention and discussion that it should have.
Respondent profile: 1,208 adult Indians responded to this survey. They were from six states – Bihar, Haryana, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh belonging to 218 districts. 66 per cent were male and 34 per cent female. 49 per cent were youth (<40 years), 35 per cent middle aged and 16 per cent seniors (>60).
Prashnam, in keeping with its principles of transparency and integrity, makes available the entire raw data of this survey for analysts and researchers to verify and analyse further.
Rajesh Jain is founder, Prashnam, an AI technology start-up that aims to make opinion gathering more scientific, easy, fast, and affordable. Views are personal.
The article is part of ThePrint-Prashnam Vox Pop series.
(Edited by Anurag Chaubey)