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Survey highlights change in educational needs of underprivileged children

( December 30, 2020 )

The need for textbooks, technology to access classes such as mobile phones, computers and internet is on the rise

With the Covid-19 pandemic bringing in a new normal by disrupting everyday lives, a survey has shown that the educational needs of the poor and underprivileged have undergone a change with more than half highlighting the need for textbooks and support system like mobile phone, internet and other accessories to continue the learning process with desired results.

The survey commissioned by NGO Smile Foundation among students and families also showed that more among the poor and underprivileged in the southern parts of the country do not follow hygiene and precautionary measures to avoid Covid-19 compared to those in other parts of the country, indicating the need for a sustained action among the community.

With schooling moving into the internet, the survey of 3,353 respondents claimed that only 51% are satisfied with current learning methods while 80% are waiting for schools to reopen due to altered work and home routine of parents who might be finding it difficult to adjust to the online learning schedules of children.

One of the concerns was that the online classes were scheduled at a time the parents are out for work or they do have just one mobile phone while they have more than one child at home.

The survey showed that 68% felt that the scheduling of the classes was a problem while 95% said that they have two or more children, which was posing a challenge in providing mobile phones to each one of them, with almost all classes scheduled at the same time for all children.

One of the problems with online education highlighted by the respondents was that they were not able to access properly (68%) or guide their children properly (74%). It also said 44% do not have adequate availability of educational resources to facilitate home-based learning for their children.

Highlighting the need for more orientation and support in terms of digital literacy, the survey showed that 48% of parents felt that they were not prepared or equipped to help their children’s e-learning process.

However, the survey claimed, 53% emphasised the need for adequate educational resources, inclusive of books and other teaching-learning materials. Other kinds of support mentioned include mobile phones, internet support and related accessories to continue the learning process with the desired results.

“The above figure specifies the needs expressed by the respondents with the majority of them requesting for books and teaching learning materials to help facilitate their children’s learning. While 8% mentioned need for phones and 9% require internet support to follow the current mode of teaching extended by schools. Around 21% respondents prefer direct interaction with teachers where they visit homes and support the children on a one to one basis,” it said.

“Orientation and basic digital literacy to support academics would be absolutely essential in bridging the gap and continuing the learning process with better results. Lack of digital equipment, facilities and learning materials like phone, internet, data pack, notebook, charts and other resources is a crucial gap that needs addressal to accommodate an effective learning process,” it said.

The survey also showed that a majority of the respondents — 83% in South and 79% in West, 58% in East and 48% in North — “do not follow” the necessary Covid-19 norms “regularly”. If one considers all Covid-19 norms are being followed, then South India stands at 53%, West 56%, East 47% and North 26%.

When it came to washing hands regularly, wearing masks, maintaining social distancing and consuming immunity-boosting food, the rural and urban folk in south India fared badly compared to other parts of the country.

According to the survey results, 93% in rural and 77% in urban areas in the South did not wash hands regularly while it was 35% and 59% in the North respectively.

Similarly, 77% in rural and 66% among the poor in urban localities in southern India were not wearing masks while 88% in rural and 94% in urban areas were also not maintaining social distancing.

When it comes to consuming immunity-boosting food, all regions in the country fare similarly. The survey showed that 98-100% among those surveyed were not able to consume such food.

“The survey data reveals that more than 50% of households still do not have access to proper nutritious food. It is observed that more than 51% respondents acknowledged that children feel hunger pangs occasionally as well as quite often. Almost 20% of the households are not able to have three full meals a day owing to the current situation. Around 53% face difficulty in accessing home-made food with 21% finding it challenging to have access to nutritional products like full meals, pulses, etc,” the survey added.


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