Congratulations for your detailed cover story ‘Pandemic Thunderbolt Endangers Early Years Education’ (EW February). It sends out a strong message to the Central and state governments to walk the talk — the National Education Policy 2020 accords high importance to early childhood care and education (ECCE) — and provide a pandemic relief package to India’s struggling pre-primary education sector. As you have highlighted, almost 50 percent of private preschools have shut down countrywide and promoters and teachers have suffered huge financial losses. Also, closure of government anganwadis has put millions of under-privileged children at risk of malnutrition.
I wholly endorse your demand for reopening preschools and anganwadis with short-duration in-person classes subject to parental consent.
Gagandeep Kaur on email
Thank you for an eye-opening and hard-hitting cover story on the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on India’s nascent early childhood care and education (ECCE) sector (EW February).
There’s clear danger that the gains and advances made by the country’s early childhood educators to impact the importance of ECCE upon parents and governments have been lost in the pandemic. Across the country, hundreds of preschools have shut down, thousands of teachers have lost their jobs and millions of children have lost critically important foundational early years education. Unfortunately, our politicians and bureaucrats who frame public policies seem unmoved by the financial distress of preschool teachers or the massive learning loss of youngest children.
What a contrast to governments in the West including the UK, US and France! Most of them never shut down their preschools even during the height of the pandemic. More pertinently, they pumped millions of dollars into early childhood education during the Corona crisis. The BJP government should learn from the example of these countries.
Urgent action call
Your special report ‘Counting the cost of Covid child damage’ (EW February) focuses a timely spotlight on the scope and scale of the damage inflicted by the pandemic on India’s children.
As rightly mentioned in the report, socio-economically disadvantaged children are worst affected and unless state governments double their efforts to make up for the nutrition and learning loss suffered by them during almost a full year, their own and the country’s future, is doomed. Anganwadis and schools must reopen without further delay, and intensive remedial learning programmes should be introduced forthwith. While the children of the affluent are continuing to learn through the digital mode, the poor especially in rural India, are deprived of any learning.
Moreover the grim forecast that 115 million children are at risk of malnutrition needs to be urgently addressed. Large-scale child malnutrition can severely cripple their cognitive development as well as their future workplace productivity and earnings.
Impressive young achievers
I am a regular reader of EducationWorld. I am impressed by the accomplishments of young achievers Kian Godhwani and Nandini Bhattacharya profiled in your February issue. It’s very commendable of them to launch an online peer-counseling start-up HappyInc. The pandemic and closure of education institutions is playing havoc with the psychological and emotional well-being of children and adolescents who are suffering incremental anxiety, fear and stress.
It’s tragic that mental health is not given due importance in schools and colleges. Teachers should take the lead in educating parents and speak out against the social stigma attached to counseling and treatment of mental health problems.
Thank you for the EducationWorld India School Rankings 2020-21 Awards on Wheels (Pictorial Essay, EW February). The EWISR Awards on Wheels initiative was amazing, innovative and much appreciated. We were delighted to host EducationWorld and its partners on our school campus, and it was an honour for our chairman Naresh Bothra and the management to receive this valuable award before the school’s teachers and staff.
Bodhi International School