Updated: Aug 20, 2022
The shutdown of schools worldwide has impacted 290.5 million children and youth who would normally attend pre-primary to upper-secondary classes. Further, the localised school closures to prevent or contain COVID-19 is increasing this number.
According to UNESCO, out of the total population of students enrolled in education globally, approximately 89% of them are currently out of their schools because of lockdowns. It includes 1.54 billion students who are enrolled in schools, colleges, or universities, including approximately 743 million girls. Out of these, over 111 million girls are living in the world’s least developed countries, where education is already a struggle for them.
The situation of COVID-19 forces concerns regarding the drop-out rates that are rising disproportionately among adolescent girls. It will only worsen the gender gaps in education and leading to an increased risk of sexual exploitation, early or unintended pregnancy, and child or forced marriages.
Closing of schools - The lockdown has kept everyone in their houses. As the girls who are currently studying at their homes now, their families would now make them do more domestic chores than before. Previously, girls spent 6 to 8 hours at school solely for education. But now, as the situation has changed, it is most likely that they have to balance between housework and schoolwork simultaneously. It has resulted in negligence towards their education.
Financial Problems - Loss of household income can result in girls marrying young and generating revenue for the family. The consequences can compound with unplanned early pregnancy. It will be a great hindrance to the continuation of their education.
Deaths of the member in a family - Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the sickness and mortality rate among parents or other household members is also interfering with girls’ education. The loss of a parent can reduce the income, so the need for children to work for pay during the crisis will increase; girls are sometimes the primary income earners in their families. Girls can become primary caregivers for sick members of their families or their younger siblings. These responsibilities can lead girls from dropping out of school or college.
Quarantine - Quarantine measures imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic are putting girls and women at heightened risk of violence in their homes. Economic stress on families during the pandemic can put children, particularly girls, at greater risk of exploitation, child labour, or gender-based violence. It will affect the girls emotionally and mentally. They will also lack in their academics as well.
Don’t have access to the internet or distance learning – Only 12% of families in the poorest countries have access to the internet in their houses. Access to mobile internet is lower than 26% for women and girls than for their males. Not only this, girls are the first ones to be pulled out of school and send to work or care for their younger siblings when their families face economic hardship. As a result, girls don’t have time for school work and may not return once schools reopen, and online classes require an internet connection and a mobile device. Low-income families cannot afford such facilities. All the children in a family can’t share one device for their classes from school. Thus, parents have to choose among their children. In a patriarchal society, it is evident that parents prefer the male child’s education over the girlchild. Therefore, girls are denied access to their classes. Internet connectivity is essential nowadays. In India, nearly more than half of the population has no access thigh-speeded internet internet
Government can provide special financial allocations to the school.
Teachers should be trained to provide education in an online environment.
Special note of attendance must be taken to ensure continuity in education.
Counselling centres can be established to guide the parents and girls who are planning to drop out due to the different consequences of the pandemic.
The educated citizens in the villages can set up small groups to ensure the children in their neighborhood are getting an education.
ASHA workers can play a unique role here, taking note of any girl child denied education.
Giving the families economic support in crisis so that no girl in their family should drop out from school.
Providing girls with offline support like printed resources, USB keys, or radios.
Raising awareness regarding this issue on social media, TV, Podcasts, etc.
Televisions can broadcast educational lessons for children with a proper timetable.
Pause, Think and Take Action
Ever since 2008, Save the Children has initiated and introduced several campaigns for the betterment of children. Covering every aspect, these campaigns are focused on issues ranging from the implementation of child-friendly policies to rehabilitation efforts to creating general awareness about children’s circumstances.
Save the Children has launched 100 Days of Action (Launched on 1 June) across countries to ensure all children, especially girls, continue to learn.
About the 320 million children whose education is on PAUSE. This Pause can define the life of over 10 million girls in our country Save the Children is determined to #AllyUpForHer between (1st June- International Children's Day and 8h September - International Literacy Day)
On 11 July, 11:11, we are urging every to take a minute to PAUSE, THINK AND TAKE ACTION
Girls in India have been facing discrimination for the past centuries. Till today as well there are parts in the Indian Society where a girl child is still thought of and treated as a burden. Generally, girls are given very few opportunities than boys. They also have limited access to resources. So, we should pause for a moment of our daily work and think about this situation and try to take action that we can take.
As we all know that this pandemic is unexpected, it is high time that we find solutions to these problems. A girl shouldn’t be denied her education just because they don’t have access to online classes. Finding solutions for these problems lies on governments and local authorities as well. Their duty should be there to ensure that no child is being left behind.
Limitless Stree is collaborating with Save The Children in supporting to #AllyUpForHer campaign. We aim to raise awareness to PAUSE, THINK and TAKE ACTION to define the life of over 10 million girls in our country.
On 11 July, 11:11, we are urging every to take a minute to PAUSE, THINK AND TAKE ACTION. Join us in our mission together!
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About The Author
Mitali is a youth enthusiastic women pursuing her BBA-LLB from Mody University. She is an advocate for women's education and women empowerment. She has been a part of many campaigns to raise awareness in the society regarding the issues around women and working towards achieving the goals of SDG 5.
Mitali Rakhecha Communication Coordinator
Reaching Sky Foundation