2021 – The year that was: Education disrupted, digital classrooms deepen learning divide

A report from researchers at the Azim Premji University found that students are not facing more complex learning losses given the hit to foundational learning.

The interim transition to digital learning is likely to exacerbate learning divides.
The interim transition to digital learning is likely to exacerbate learning divides.

Education — school education in particular — remained disrupted in 2021, despite the limited reopening across states. With vaccination now allowed for 15-18-year-olds, the senior-secondary level age group is expected to get covered. However, the continued closure of schools — brick & mortar classrooms — will mean untold loss of learning and human potential for India, experts predict. Oxfam India, earlier this year, estimated the number of out-of-school children to double from the 2019 level of 32 million, with children from marginalised communities disproportionately affected.

A report from researchers at the Azim Premji University released earlier this year found that students are not facing more complex learning losses given the hit to foundational learning.

The interim transition to digital learning is likely to exacerbate learning divides. While ASER 2021 indicated a sharp jump in smartphone ownership among student households from 2018, but students’ access to these remains a concern.

The SCHOOL Survey Locked Out found that only a quarter of parents in urban areas and less than a tenth in rural areas thought their child had adequate online access, while three-quarters of parents in both urban and rural areas believed their child’s reading abilities had declined. With Omicron threatening further school closures, education will likely remain disrupted well into 2022.

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