Children in India and around the world are facing an unprecedented literacy crisis. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of children lacking basic reading skills appeared to be dropping. International Literacy Day is a UNESCO day of observance that highlights the importance of literacy for all people, communities, and societies. The 2021 theme is "Literacy for a human-centred recovery: Narrowing the digital divide".
The Covid-19 pandemic has added to the disruption in learning for children across the board, making access to learning materials even more difficult. In such times, extra efforts are required for helping children learn. The year 2020 and 2021 has been full of challenges and opportunities. Owing to the pandemic, the schools shut down, and all face-to-face teacher training received a massive setback. One of the worst affected were the early grade children, who did not have access to the range of online educational resources provided during the lockdown due to the digital divide.
The risk of learning loss increased manifold, especially for first-generation learners, who had little or no support at home. In India, the magnitude of the problem increases considering the lack of appropriate mediums and even access to distance learning programs. A multi-pronged approach was therefore essential. More than 250 million children and youth are out of school due to the Covid-19 lockdown in India
Challenges In India
An insufficient number of Anganwadi centers. Distant location of Middle and High schools leading to high drop-out rates especially girls. No time for self-study due to unavailability of books, due to engagement in work due to school closure. Lack of gadgets to cope with online education amid pandemic. Sexual abuse and or increase in violence against children especially during lockdown period. Discontinuity of education is resulting in children engaging in child labour, the situation is also leading to an increase in child brides, child trafficking.
The 8th of September celebrated the world over as international literacy day is a reminder of the importance of literacy for individuals, communities, and societies and the need for intensified efforts towards more literate societies. This year as we bring children SB2S literacy has acquired a new meaning. It is the wellbeing of every child, the connection with teachers, the bond with friends, and a safe free space to express oneself freely, grow, and develop to complete potential.
Children Dropping Out Of School
This year has made us realize what do schools mean for children. We celebrate this day this year with a wish that every child everywhere returns safely back to school to learn happily and freely for a literate world in the future. Let us put our efforts together so that each child enjoys his/her childhood - Kamal Gaur, Deputy Director- Education
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 53% of children in low and middle-income countries could not read. At its peak during the COVID-19 Pandemic, 1.6 billion children were out of school – approximately 90% of the entire student population. Today,up to 9.7 million children are at risk of dropping out of school due to rising levels of child poverty exacerbated by COVID-19. All of this amounts to a global education crisis we cannot ignore. On International Literacy Day and every day, Save the Children celebrates the importance of reading and writing from an early age.