Covid Disrupted Education Of Younger Kids, Shows Study | Visakhapatnam News

Visakhapatnam: About 84% of all children aged 3-6 years had enrolled in a school or preschool before the onset of the Covid-19 in March 2020 in Andhra Pradesh. But a mere 29% received distance learning during the crisis in the first year of the pandemic – be it through online platforms, television, textbooks, radio, worksheets, or other take-home modalities.
A recent study conducted by various organizations in collaboration with Niti Aayog on early childhood development during the Covid-19 crisis tried to understand the influence of the pandemic on young children (aged six and under) and their parents.
The lockdown necessitated by Covid-19 forced both formal and informal early childhood development centers such as schools, Anganwadi centers and creches to remain closed for several month.
At the household level, the loss of employment, reduced access to public places and frayed social relations increased the potential disruption of childhood development.
As per the study, a greater proportion of households whose children were attending private schools accessed distance learning compared to their peers who went to government institutions. The most cited challenges included lack of time due to work and issues with technology. These challenges were further exacerbated for rural households.
Nearly one in every five parents reported stress and fatigue. The most commonly cited drivers of stress included fear of Covid-19 infection, followed by loss of work/income and disruption of learning and care for their children.
Frontline staff such as Anganwadi workers played a critical role in softening the blow of the pandemic, but this came at significant personal cost for them. As they had to work additional hours, they experienced greater stress and as a result started to find their work unmanageable. Nearly helped of the surveyed Asha workers and 36% of Anganwadi workers reported working longer hours and increased stress levels.
Providing children with developmentally appropriate opportunities is crucial for learning. But long hours of digital interaction are not advisable for younger children. It is important to design opportunities where children can engage in concrete learning activities with support of their parents. A systemic focus on the creation and dissemination of content in vernacular languages ​​can help bridge the language gap.
The study was conducted by Dalberg Advisors and Kantar Public, in collaboration with Niti Aayog and supported by the Bernard van Leer Foundation, Porticus, Echidna Giving and Dalberg. Data collection was done between December 2020 and February 2021 across 11 selected states, including Andhra Pradesh.


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