~41% students not fully comfortable with following COVID protocol, 52% concerned about consuming mid-day meals~
New Delhi, March 31, 2021: As schools across India prepare to reopen for children after the pandemic year, as many as 39% students are not aware or have incomplete knowledge of the school reopening guidelines amid COVID-19. And as many as 41% are not fully comfortable following COVID protocol in school.
These details have emerged in a survey by Smile Foundation where the major respondents are the school children. This survey was conducted between February and March 2021 among a random sample from 26,860 students from 131 schools across 12 states, among students in the 8-18 age group.
The survey was conducted among beneficiary students of Smile Foundation’s flagship Mission Education program, which aims to provide basic education and healthcare to underprivileged children.
The survey has found that an overwhelming 78% students are happy about the prospect of reopening of schools, but 22% students are anxious and scared of meeting their school friends and interacting with them.
Worryingly, as many as 52% students were found to be concerned about consuming mid-day meals when schools reopen.
59% of the students surveyed in Smile Foundation’s study were from rural areas, 25% were from urban areas, and 16% were from semi-urban areas.
The pandemic has fundamentally reshaped education delivery with students opting for blended learning options. As many as 49% of the students surveyed opted for a blend of online learning tools and offline education delivery. Through the pandemic, Smile Foundation has implemented a blended learning approach under its Shiksha Na Ruke initiative to ensure continued education of school children to mitigate disruption from COVID-19.
Smile Foundation’s blended learning approach improves accessibility to education for students across India through multiple means – smartphones, tablets, television sets, radio and even through feature phones. Home visits by teachers, cluster classes, distribution of printed worksheets, guidance by mentors and Shikshamitras, all form part of the blended learning approach, which includes methodology for continued learning, even after schools gradually re-open.
Talking about the survey, Mr. Santanu Mishra, Co-Founder, and Executive Trustee, Smile Foundation said, “It is important to understand the ground reality and the concerns of the children and their parents. Before schools reopen, we must work on educating students about COVID-appropriate behavior in these new normal circumstances. Over the past year, students have been learning through a combination of various online and offline modes. However there has certainly been a significant gap in learning. Considerable time and effort must be devoted to build students’ confidence in returning to schools.”
The survey also included responses from 75 teachers in 12 states. It found that 69% teachers were highly satisfied with the teaching and learning process in the blended learning format to reach the children and continue the teaching learning… an attempt to Shiksha Na Ruke.
The survey suggested that 44% teachers feel students will not be able to catch up with learning as per the conventional grades’ standard when they return to schools, while 42% of teachers felt maintaining COVID protocol will be the other major challenge for returning students.
About Mission Education
Under its flagship program, Mission Education, Smile Foundation is committed to provide basic education and healthcare to underprivileged children. The underlining approach of the mission is that education is the right area to start making a difference to address allied areas like healthcare, poverty, population control, unemployment, or human rights. Since its inception in 2002, more than 232,000 underprivileged children have directly benefitted from the Mission Education program.
About Smile Foundation:
Smile Foundation, is an NGO in India directly benefitting over 15,00,000 children and their families every year, through more than 400 live welfare projects on education for poor children, healthcare, livelihood and women empowerment, in over 2000 remote villages and slums across 25 states of India. Adopting a life cycle approach of development, Smile Foundation focuses its interventions on children, their families, and the community.