Holistic Development, Mental Health, Physical Health, Rich Vs Poor, School Closures, Urban Vs Rural -

Impact of School Closures on Children

Think – An underprivileged household that has 5 members, Father and Mother working in odd jobs, and 3 school going children. Monthly family income is Rs 10000-15000.
Do you think the children of this household were able to attend online classes, did they manage to buy 3 smart phones or even 1?
Were the parents able enough to help their children in the absence of the teacher’s guidance?

As per my interactions with such households, the answer to both the above questions in NO!
Richer schoolchildren have access to digital technology that allows them to learn remotely, whereas children from poorer households are at risk of falling further behind in their education. According to a survey, 42 per cent of students aged 6 to 13 years shared that they did not use any type of remote learning during school closures. Another survey of 1,400 underprivileged students revealed that the extended school closure has created a “four year learning deficit”. This means that “a student who was in Grade 3 before COVID-19 is now in Grade 5, and will soon enter middle school, but with reading abilities of [that of] a Grade 1 pupil”.

For them the schools closed in March 2020 with the national lockdown and they lost the medium to any education, development, aspirations.
As the parents struggled to make ends meet, they got their children to start working. This sucked them out of the education system for good. During the pandemic, many families were unemployed, financially stressed or in debt. This gives rise to the possibility that many parents in the may not send their children back to school so as to help the family financially.

When the schools in Delhi reopened for the first time in January 2021, many children never returned as they already became the essential earning members of the family.

The decision to close down schools that has become the new regular for any situation, really needs rethinking. Online Education is not an option for everyone. Yes, we need to be cautious about the COVID Situation. Yes, the pollution situation is not good in Delhi, but are we closing down schools more frequently because we have got an alternative. The alternative (online classes) is not a like for like solution. Many do not have the access to gadgets. For many, parents do not have the time. For many, parents are themselves not able enough to participate in their children’s learning process, some students just do not have that attention to get a grasp of things without the teacher’s intervention which is only possible in an actual classroom. Teachers are not able to build a rapport with the children as they usually do in school.

Most of the parents are sceptical to send their children to the school which is very understandable. After all, well being of their children is the priority. But some of them also have another unspoken reason that is their children are getting better marks in the current online environment. They really need to understand that it is hollow learning with no holistic development. Students need a respite from the current social isolation so that they regain their chance to develop holistically.

There is a stark difference between the Urban and Rural children’s access to online education. As per a survey only 24% urban children and 8% rural children have studied online regularly, mostly because many of the rural households cannot afford a smartphone. In houses where a smartphone is available, it is mainly used by working adults who are not always around to share that with the children for their online classes.

As per Unicef, COVID-19 has exposed the extent and severity of the mental health crisis. The disruption to routines, education, recreation, as well as concern for family income, health and increase in stress and anxiety, is leaving many children and young people feeling afraid, angry and concerned for their future. School closures, job losses among families and increased stress and anxiety have affected the mental health of children and young people.

It is high time we start taking education seriously especially during these times, we cannot let whatever progress we have made to be wiped off by school closures. It has an impact on children’s physical health, mental health, social behaviour and it all ultimately impacts their future. Schools should be the last to close and first to open given appropriate circumstances. The pandemic will not be over for anyone until it is over for everyone.



  1. https://indianpediatrics.net/oct2021/oct-959-961.htm
  2. https://www.isas.nus.edu.sg/papers/education-during-the-covid-19-pandemic-in-india/
  3. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/survey-details-catastrophic-impact-of-school-closures-across-india/article36309490.ece
  4. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-58432648
  5. https://indianexpress.com/article/education/repeated-school-closures-due-to-covid-19-leading-to-learning-loss-and-widening-inequities-in-south-asia-unicef-7499111/
  6. https://www.livemint.com/news/india/covid19-impact-school-lockdowns-have-robbed-a-generation-of-upward-mobility-11631058490533.html

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