Representing 1,500 children from 16 states, 14 children have shared their experiences in learning loss, and the challenges they faced because of prolonged school closure through the pandemic.
Children and young people presented a nine-point charter of demands to the parliamentarians, urging them to take actions to support their learning recovery.
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With safe reopening of schools across the country after more than a year, the children’s charter of demands focuses attention on safe school reopening as well as equitable access to online learning, reducing the size of the syllabus and prioritizing vaccination for children.
Sharing of the children’s charter of demands was followed by a question and answer session and an open discussion.
Kritika, a 15-year-old from Delhi who facilitated the presentation of the charter of demands remarked, “My peers and I have faced various challenges on education. Today we feel grateful that parliamentarians have come here to listen to our demands.”
Extended closure of schools affected not only education but also children’s physical and psychological well-being. Online learning was not accessible to all.
According to UNICEF’s rapid assessment conducted in six states in 2020 — Assam, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Gujarat, and Uttar Pradesh — 76 per cent of parents of children in the 5-13 years age group, and 80 per cent of adolescents aged between 14 and 18, reported less learning compared to when they were in school.
Welcoming the parliamentarians, children and guests, Gogoi said the “World Children’s Day reminds all us of our commitments and duty to ensure that children have their hopes, dreams, and aspirations intact.”
Addressing the children as leaders of tomorrow and the future of India, he said, “As we move forward, I want you to know that we have your best interests at heart. It is my sincere hope that the takeaways from today will guide us to work even harder for the same.”
Indevar Pandey, Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development, said the children participating in the session showed promise to be the leaders of tomorrow. “They are the changemakers who are going to be shaping our future”.
“I want to reaffirm that the government is working to create a world in which every child has a safe and healthy childhood. The government is committed to protecting your future and each of us works to ensure that no child is left behind,” he said.
Yasumasa Kimura, UNICEF India Representative, said “The global pandemic has impacted children in so many ways – education being a critical area, along with nutrition, immunization, mental and physical health, and protection of children. As we hope to recover from nearly two years of the pandemic that took away school education from countless children, it becomes essential to move forward with a plan for recovering education.”
“All your participation fills us with hope that the policy landscape will see evolutions to accommodate and prioritize the best interests of our children,” he added.
According to the UNICEF̥, over 230 iconic government buildings landmarks and monuments – from the Rashtrapati Bhavan, North and South Block, the Parliament House and Qutub Minar, Indian Women Press Corps in New Delhi, and other significant buildings, across India – were lit up in blue on November 19-20, signifying the nationwide celebration of child rights and putting the spotlight on children’s learning recovery.