By Rajat Shetye
New Delhi: It is India’s youth and children whose education and transfer into the work environment has been badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. They have lost one year of their childhood and adolescence, one year of quality education with thousands of drop-outs who will never return to school. Children and youth from poor background, lower castes, studying in Government schools will see the devastating impact of the pandemic on their lives in the near future.
Students studying in private school received mostly online education during the last one year. Problems which come along with online education, the dates of exams pending and the question remaining whether they will even take place any time soon, leaving them with an uncertain future, putting mental and emotional strain on young students, . Parents of students studying in private schools are better off financially and can support their children even if the start of college may be delayed.
The pandemic has left many of the middle class families in financial distress, because of the declining economy, loss of jobs or savings spent for treatment or funeral of family members infected with COVID-19.
The impact the pandemic has on students from less privileged poor background is unimaginable, with government schools closed for months together, no facility to access online education and the financial distress of the families due to lock-downs and COVID-19 restrictions. What about their future?
National Institute of Mental Health and Neuroscience, and Indian Association For Child and Adolescent Mental Health raised concerns saying the pandemic will leave a broad impact on India’s children with lasting consequences. Almost every aspect of children’s and adolescence’s life has been disrupted: their learning, health, behavior and overall development, experiencing financial problems in the families or being subject to abuse and violence. Actions are needed to diminish the mental health issues of India’s children and youth suffering the consequences of the pandemic.
Young adolescents in transition from education to work too face challenges due to the pandemic.
Addressing the G20 Labor and Employment Minister’s meeting in New Delhi yesterday, Santosh Gangwar, assured the group of ministers that India will secure the overall development and capacity building of children and youth. In his speech he addressed the importance of quality education starting from pre-school to senior secondary stage, skill training and higher education.
Considering the impact of the pandemic, issues like improvement of education and educational reforms have to be addressed by the Government. A good education system is important to prepare the young generations for the labor market and equip them to face the challenges of the world of work in the changes national and global environment following the pandemic.
To enhance the skill training of the young generation, the National Skill Development Mission is focusing on converging skill efforts across all sectors. Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana, for instance, assists youth to learn industrial related skills.
Minister Santosh Gangwar said, that efforts for the employment generation being made through schemes for expansion of ESIC and social security benefits to sustain employment and livelihoods.
The pandemic is the cause for the challenges children and young Indians face, but it is the Government’s handling of the pandemic, it mistakes, mismanagement, ignorance and lack of transparency which has led to this crisis. Our children and youth too are paying the consequences for it and this will continue if the Government does not act immediately.