Six months of lockdown has left hundreds of thousands of children stuck at home, harming their education and leading to various psychological problems. The government was left with no other option but to announce school closures back in March due to the Covid-19 outbreak. However, six months later, children and their parents are still left wondering what the future holds for them.
The government's initiative to launch educational programmes online and through television has been unable to make up for the loss of education arising out of school closures—not that it was expected to, given that school is not just a place of learning, but also one for social activities and human interactions. But the problem has been further aggravated due to the digital divide that exists in our country, for example, between rural and urban areas.
According to the government's Covid-19 Response Plan for the Education Sector, only 44 percent of the children aged between 5 and 11 in rural areas have a TV at home, whereas in urban areas, it is 75 percent. And when it comes to having access to internet, we cannot help but think that the divide must be just as striking. This means that children in rural areas have perhaps been completely cut off from all forms of formal education for six long months.
Moreover, being walled into their houses is sure to take a heavy toll on the children's psych, according to psychological experts. Children need to be outdoors, involved in physical activities and socialising with others for their physical and cognitive development. The pandemic, however, is denying them all of that. Besides, it is exerting significant stress on them—particularly the weight of an uncertain future.
Although difficult to address given the enormity of the Covid-19 crisis, it is the adults who must take responsibility for this and do whatever is necessary to relieve children of such pressure. Parents and others need to be more understanding of the psychological burden that children are being asked to endure, and act accordingly.
The authorities must come up with better plans that can work around the existing digital divide to ensure that all children receive some form of education till their schools reopen. Moreover, the authorities should continually update the nation on its programmes and efforts to reopen schools. Instead of leaving schools closed indefinitely, it should inform the public on when it believes schools can reopen, backed by scientific evidence and statistics, so that children and their parents do not have to continue living in such uncertainty.