UNICEF is committed to support the Indian children who have missed out on the learning in the school during the Covid-19 Pandemic, says UNICEF India representative Yasumasa Kimura. He said that nearly 247 million children could not go to school for more than a year. And approximately 1.5 million schools and 1.4 million ECD/Anganwadi centres were closed during this period.
UNICEF India Representative Yasumasa Kimura said that children in India facing a learning crisis and the future of an entire generation is at risk. To seize out this crisis, UNICEF India today unveiled a symbolic ‘pandemic classroom’ installation in observance of Children’s day in India at Select CITYWALK in Saket, New Delhi.
Empty rows of desks and chairs along with unused backpacks are set up to draw urgent attention to the plight of millions of young children who missed going to school for over a year due to the school closures through the pandemic and have consequently experienced learning loss.
“We are advocating for ‘learning recovery and learning loss’ for children in India on this world children day on 20 November. As I said, children are the biggest sufferers during the Pandemic as more than 286 million children have lost the opportunities of learning. So, we want to bring public attention to this learning crisis through empty classes, desks, chairs, and unused bags,” said Yasumasa Kimura.
Yasumasa Kimura said that UNICEF and India are working in unison to curb the impact of the Pandemic on children in India.
“We have worked very closely with national and states government during the pandemic. We have worked with the ministry of education to come up with guidelines and protocols for safe openings of schools for children. UNICEF has worked towards providing assistance to children in online learning in many states. Our mobile learning centres visited the community where students didn’t have mobile for online education and provided them support. We worked in Bihar, Oddisa, and other states to provide community support to those students with mobile learning,” he said.
Brushing aside all the contradictory facts about the reopening the schools will make an adverse impact on fighting Pandemic in India as most of the schools are lacking basic amenities for Covid-19 guidelines, Yasumasa Kimura, said “there is evidence that children are not the cause of covid of infection and they are less like to become the cluster of infection.
“It has also been proved that they recover quickly if get infected. We can’t wait until children are vaccinated to open the schools. They are already losing the learning opportunity. With proper Covid behavior like social distancing, hand sanitization, ventilation in the classroom, we can prevent the infection. It is important to bring them back to the classroom,” Kimura said.
When asked about the impact on UNICEF after the global meltdown in the economy during the Pandemic, Yasumasa Kimura said, “Absolutely it has impacted UNICEF during the second wave. Many of our staff were infected during the second wave. However, we have managed to keep running the program. In terms of financial impact, we didn’t face any crisis to run the program. We received significant contribution and support domestically and overseas to run the program.”
“UNICEF has done a survey in different states of India in which they find the massive loss of learning capacity among school-going children during the pandemic. In fact, those children who had already learned writing and reading in the schools before Pandemic, they almost forgot that. It has, perhaps, prompted UNICEF to chalk out the programs for children in India,” said professor Venita Kaul.
Kaul added, “UNICEF is focussing on programs that will help children emotionally ‘get back’ to school and to begin enjoying and making sense of what they are learning.” “In India, many children do not have the logistic support for online classes. Many children, especially the youngest, have not had any exposure to a school and need the opportunity to start from scratch. And they are the real sufferers of Pandemic.”
UNICEF Celebrity Advocate Ms.Kareena Kapoor Khan in her video message said, “Learning and education for every child is something that is very close to my heart. Now that many schools are reopening across India, we must rejoice that children are back, learning and having fun with their friends. At the same time, we must also remember some children have not been able to access remote learning or home-based education.”
She added, “Teachers, parents, and many others have made considerable efforts to help children continue their learning, yet children may still have some catching up to do and it will happen. Let’s together join hands to give them a safe and protective environment, that helps them learn. Let’s begin by sending our children back to school, following COVID appropriate behaviors that include wearing masks, handwashing with soap, and physical distancing.”